No more talks with Musharraf: Benazir
* Ex-PM claims party could boycott polls if conducted under emergency
LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto on Monday ruled out any more power-sharing talks with President General Pervez Musharraf while vowing to press ahead with the ‘Long March’ planned for Tuesday.
“We are saying no to any more talks,” Bhutto told reporters here. “We cannot work with anyone who has suspended the Constitution, imposed emergency rule, and oppressed the judiciary. That’s why we are holding the ‘long march’.” According to AFP, Bhutto welcomed Musharraf’s promise to hold elections before January 9 but said they could not be free and fair if held under emergency rule.
Boycott an option: “Boycotting the election is an option with us,” she said. “The decision to impose an emergency and not to quit his military uniform has led to a breakdown of talks between us and the Musharraf regime,” she added.
She said the ‘Long March’ was not a political rally, but a “march by the people against the tyrants and nobody dares stop it.”
“We appeal to all people, including those from other parties and minorities, women and children, to take part in this long march,” she said, reported Reuters.
She said, “I want to see Pakistan a peaceful place where every person is free from fear of extremism and terrorism. These two social evils damaged the social fibre of our society and the PPP is here to control the damage. The party will put democracy back on track and it is moral duty of every patriotic citizen to participate in the ‘Long March’.” “I know it is dangerous but what alternatives are there?” she added.
PPP Punjab President Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the march would be attended by thousands of party workers if the government did not create any hurdles. He said he was concerned that all party leaders would be placed under house arrest but maintained that the rally would proceed as scheduled.
According to PPP sources, the party’s senior leaders have asked all workers to reach the residence of Senator Latif Khosa by 10.30am today (Tuesday), as the march would proceed as scheduled. The rally’s route has also been extended and now includes Ghazi Road, General Hospital, Chungi Amer Sandhu, Kasur, Depalpur, Okara, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Ferozewala, Muridke, Kamonke, Gujranwala, Lala Musa, Kharian, Jhelum and Gujjar Khan.
The journey might now take four to five days instead of the previously announced three. They said all party ticket holders had been directed to bring at least 300 workers if they were MNAs, 200 if they were MPAs and all zonal presidents had been directed to bring as many workers as they could. The party leaders also warned workers against mass arrests and asked them not to stay at their homes on Monday night.