Pakistan opposition wants better security ahead of vote


ISLAMABAD: January 3, 2008. (AFP) – Pakistani opposition parties demanded better security Thursday as the nation prepared for a lengthy campaign ahead of February 18 elections, a week after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The country`s main political parties confirmed they would resume the race to restore democracy here but said the government must ensure candidates are protected from the dangers posed by anyone determined to disrupt the polls. "We would like the government to provide foolproof security to Sharif, including a bulletproof vehicle," said Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party of two-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. "We will continue our election campaign but we are revising the party chief`s programme of public engagements in view of the current security situation." President Pervez Musharraf approved of the postponement of planned January 8 elections until February 18 in his first major speech to the nation since Bhutto`s murder a week ago plunged the nation into turmoil. He also said Wednesday that Scotland Yard detectives from London had been invited to investigate how the two-time former prime minister died, amid widespread disbelief at the official version of her death. The PML-N spokesman said the party was not deterred by the vote delay and was determined to wage a lengthy nationwide campaign despite security concerns. "Although the elections are now more than a month away the delay will not cause any harm to the campaign of our party, which is determined to restore genuine democracy in Pakistan," Iqbal said. The government had provided Bhutto with a bulletproof vehicle and police security but many of her supporters blame Musharraf for failing to stop the gun and suicide-bomb attack, which killed her last Thursday in Rawalpindi. Her October 18 homecoming from self-imposed exile saw nearly 140 people killed in a suicide bombing on her convoy in Karachi.

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