Zardari warns of civil war in Pakistan if polls rigged

February 17th, 2008 - 5:56 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto

London, Feb 17 (IANS) Former premier Benazir Bhutto’s widower Asif Zardari says her Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will “take to the streets” if the results of Monday’s polls are rigged in favour of President Pervez Musharraf. At the same time, Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Nawaz Sharief said Sunday morning he believed Musharraf was “bent upon rigging the elections”.

“Up till now I’ve shown absolute patience,” Asif Zardari, who is co-chairman of the PPP, told the Sunday Times Saturday night after campaigning ended.

“My wife has been killed, yet I’ve calmed people down, stopped them protesting. I’ve called no strike.

“But I’m telling you, people are absolutely on the warpath. If the elections are rigged, the situation will go out of my hands. We’ll have no choice but to take to the streets.”

The paper said Zardari warned that Pakistani could eventually break up as a result of violence if the elections are rigged.

Zardari, who spoke after a suicide bomber killed 37 people - mostly PPP workers - in Northwest Pakistan, said: “They’ve killed 37 of my boys. And I fear this is just the start.”

Referring to the Dec 27 assassination of Bhutto, he said: “I feel her spirit is with me. And I won’t let her down. But I fear they did not kill Benazir just to let us win.

“We’ve played our part responsibly. We’ve taken part in the elections rather than boycotted. Now it’s up to them to give us a free run. People are angry, they are on the borderline. ”

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharief told the BBC in an interview Sunday that the polls are being “stage managed” by Musharraf.

“The atmosphere is not conducive to free and fair elections. Mr Musharraf is bent upon rigging the elections,” he said.

Sharief said the two ruling parties “are going to lose very badly. They are heavily reliant on his rigging plans.”

Imran Khan of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf party told the BBC, “These election for him (Musharraf) are, ‘Heads I win Tails you lose’. He wants to win the elections any which way.”

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