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ISLAMABAD, Dec 12: The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf have agreed to launch a joint campaign against the government, claiming that it would not hold free and fair polls. They however have decided not to boycott the elections.

“We have decided not to play on President Pervez Musharraf’s pitch,” PTI chief Imran Khan told a press conference. The decision was taken during Mr Khan’s recent visit to Britain where he met former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The three parties would try to garner the support of other opposition groups.

PTI chief expressed the hope that the movement would be able to get rid of President Musharraf because the call was the first “clear signal from opposition parties to the masses for a (anti-government) movement”. Comparing it with previous protest calls, he said the earlier ones had fizzled out because they had been given by ‘one or two parties’ and lacked the support of ‘joint opposition’.

However, he clarified that it did not mean boycotting polls. The PTI chief feared that the government was planning what he termed controlled elections which, he said, were not acceptable. Hence, it was decided that instead of preparing for elections a movement should be launched against the president, he said and added that the best option before them was to go out to the masses.

"We are also reaching out to other opposition parties to invite them to join the movement that will be launched in a few weeks," Mr Khan said. Mr Sharif would be inviting Pakistan People’s Party and other ARD parties to the movement, while Mr Khan had been assigned the task of getting MMA and Ponam aboard.

The PTI chief said he had spoken with Qazi Hussain Ahmed and he had assured him of the JI’s ‘full support’.

He urged opposition groups to look for ways for keeping the opposition a cohesive force as government-sponsored elements were out to create rift between them. "We understand that the Charter of Democracy provides a minimum agenda for all opposition parties to get together."

Referring to the Transparency International’s corruption perception index, Mr Khan said it was very much clear that corruption had crossed pre-1999 coup level. It was ‘very much expected’ because of Musharraf’s policy of running the government through ‘controllables’.

Lashing out at President Musharraf, the PTI chief said, he was weakening institutions, politicising bureaucracy and undermining sovereignty to prolong his tenure.