Benazir ready to work with Nawaz

August 16, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 15: Pakistan’s two main opposition parties agreed on Thursday to cooperate in October elections.

A spokesman for Pakistan People’s Party said she had given the go-ahead to cooperate with Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League (N), for long her arch rival.

Farhatullah Babar told Reuters the idea was to make sure the two parties, both of whose leaders are barred from contesting the Oct 10 polls, did not cancel out each other’s votes.

“That means where PML candidates are strong, the PPP will withdraw its candidate and vice-versa,” Babar said. “It further cements political opposition against the government and acts as an impetus for the restoration of democracy.”

PML spokesman Siddiq-ul-Farooq told Reuters the objective of both parties was to defeat military ruler President Pervez Musharraf.

“Though we are traditionally rival parties, I don’t rule out election adjustment with the PPP on some seats,” he said.

The law promulgated by the government effectively excludes both Sharif and Bhutto from the running and both are also disqualified under a law banning people convicted of crimes.

Benazir has been living in self-imposed exile in London, while Nawaz and his family are in exile in Saudi Arabia.