Bhutto's party releases her will to bolster PPP leadership
The slain ex-prime minister's political party hopes to end the controversy over new party leader, Asif Ali Zardari, ahead of Feb. 18 elections.
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The PPP is now launching its campaign for the upcoming elections following a 40-day mourning period. Another leading opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is also gearing up for the vote. Like Bhutto, Mr. Sharif returned from exile in November after leaving Pakistan eight years ago following the military coup by current President Pervez Musharraf.Skip to next paragraph
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Parliament re-elected Musharraf in October but needs a two-thirds majority in the 342-member body to stave off any bid for his impeachment. The embattled president has given assurances that the elections will be "free, fair and transparent."
Many participants, however, say the election is sure to be rigged and that the government is not providing enough protection for candidates, leaving them vulnerable to attacks similar to the one that killed Bhutto.
Even so, observers suggest that the vote is crucial to ending the civil strife that has torn through the country in recent months, both in opposition to President Musharraf's rule and as a result of Bhutto's assassination.
Pakistan also continues to battle militants in the northwest of the country and more than more than 860 members of its security forces have been killed in bombings in 2007.
Radical elements are now a threat to the survival of Pakistan, prompting Pakistani military leaders to recognize that more aggressive efforts are needed to get the elements under control, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said yesterday in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
"In the last year, the number of terrorist attacks and deaths were greater than the past six years combined," McConnell said in an unusually strong warning about Pakistan's political problems. "What's happened is Pakistan has now recognized that this is an existential threat to their very survival."
McConnell did, however, praise Pakistan for doing more to "neutralize" terrorists than any other US partner.
Bhutto's own words in her will revealed much apprehension for the country, reports Pakistan's The News.
"I fear for the future of Pakistan. Please continue the fight against extremism, dictatorship, poverty and ignorance."