PESHAWAR, Dec 1: Rigging in the elections will harm the federation’s integrity and it is the duty of all patriotic elements to foil the designs of the “pro-dictatorship lobby”, Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto said here on Saturday.

Ms Bhutto arrived in the city on a two-day tour that is being described by some political observers as the start of the PPP’s election campaign.

Addressing party’s ticket-holders and office-bearers, she said that “politically bankrupt gangs” were planning to rig the elections to keep the PPP from coming to power.

The meeting, held on Saturday at the residence of Syed Zahir Ali Shah, was also attended by members of the parties students’ and women’s wings and People’s Lawyers Forum.

She said PPP would not boycott the polls because the rulers desired to keep “genuine political forces” out of the electoral process. “We have so for fought out all the obstacles created by the government in the way of elections. Why should we boycott the polls?”

Ms Bhutto alleged the people in power were planning to provide 20,000 pre-stamped ballot papers to all returning officers for the benefit of anti-PPP candidates at ‘improvised’ polling stations. “These improvised polling stations are ghost ones. Void of any proper address.”

She said if polls were rigged, it would be a direct assault on the integrity and solidarity of the country, but the power mafia had “gone mad in their opposition to the PPP”.

The PPP chief said autocratic rule or dictatorships had altered the face of states in contemporary history, adding that the Soviet Union had broke up simply because the Communist Party had refused to accommodate other political parties.

Urging the rulers to learn from history, she said they should allow democratic forces to flourish. “Otherwise, they will be remembered as traitors.”

She said that PPP had been a symbol of the federation, but some quarters were trying to block its way to power, encouraging “extremist and anti-democratic forces”.

She said military dictators had mistakenly assumed that the PPP would disintegrate after Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s assassination. “But now, every PPP worker has turned out to be ZAB.”

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