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Nawaz Sharif to boycott polls
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December 28, 2007 00:36 IST

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday announced that his Pakistan Muslim League-N party will boycott Pakistan's upcoming general elections in the wake of the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto [Images] and demanded that President Pervez Musharraf [Images] resign.

Accusing Musharraf of being responsible for the political crisis and other problems confronting the country, Sharif said free and fair polls could not be held under his rule.

"Under Musharraf's rule, chaos and unrest will not end, peace cannot be achieved and Pakistan cannot remain united," he said. "There is no doubt that Musharraf is the root cause of all problems.

"In these circumstances, the PML-N has decided after Mohtarma Bhutto's cruel assassination, to boycott the polls. We made this decision at a time when independent surveys by international bodies are suggesting that the PML-N is in a position to win the elections," Sharif said.

"Several surveys have shown that we are in a position to win the polls and we have taken this decision (to boycott the January 8 general elections) from a position of strength and not of weakness. It is a decision for the good of Pakistan," said Sharif.

Sharif, who was deposed by Musharraf in a bloodless coup in 1999, said the time had come to save Pakistan and to heal the wounds afflicting the country.

Sharif had initially suggested a boycott of next month's polls to the national and provincial assemblies shortly after he returned to Pakistan from exile last month.

He had also held talks with Bhutto on this issue and decided to contest the polls only after he failed to persuade her to join the boycott.

Sharif also urged other parties to boycott the elections.In the event of a collective response, the credibility of the January 8 elections could be seriously called into question.

Sharif said that after three days of mourning, he would chalk out a strategy to challenge Musharraf's rule but he rebutted suggestions that he could gain political mileage from her demise.

"I think nobody stands to gain and nobody should be looking for any gains," he told the BBC. "It's a very serious situation for the country today."

"Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for her death," he said afterward, his eyes at times welling up with tears. "Don't feel alone. I am with you. We will take the revenge on the rulers."

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