Pakistani opposition leaders to meet

Dec. 2, 2007 at 11:28 PM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, leaders of Pakistan's main opposition parties, planned to meet amid reports of their likely boycott of next months' elections.

But the Dawn news agency reported there were signs of a change of stand by Sharif's party to take part in the Jan. 8 elections. The report said the Sharif-Bhutto meeting was expected Monday.

Sharif, seen as Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's biggest political challenge, heads the Pakistan Muslim League party while Bhutto leads the Pakistan People's party.

The Dawn report said a sign the Sharif party may contest the elections came as its parliamentary board scheduled a Tuesday meeting to announce its list of candidates.

The report said while the Sharif-Bhutto meeting on a boycott was called by party leaders, it quoted Sharif party sources saying he is under pressure to change his stand, since Musharraf has become a civilian president and promised to lift emergency rule this month. Sharif remains on top in recent polls.

It is not clear whether Bhutto has decided to boycott or participate in the elections.

The BBC reported a boycott of the polls by major parties would be a blow to Western allies who want the elections to be free and fair.

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