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Sharif asks party member to step up campaigning efforts
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08:17, January 08, 2008

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Pakistani former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday called on members of his PML-N party to step up campaigning for the upcoming general elections scheduled for Feb. 18.

Sharif made the calling here after a high level meeting of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), which is expected to chalk out the party's strategy for the national and provincial assembly elections.

Addressing a press conference, Sharif said his party would deploy youth supporters at the polling stations to prevent the rigging of the elections.

President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned the post of army chief in late November and took oath as a civilian president, has pledged free and fair elections. The elections were initially scheduled for Jan. 8 but delayed for 40 days due to violence in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Dec. 27.

Sharif blamed what he described as "brink of crisis" in Pakistan on the political and economic policies and called for the establishment of a national unity government to replace the caretaker government.

Law and order has been quickly restored across the country after it was disrupted by the violence that lasted for several days, with Karachi, the base of Bhutto's party, hardest hit.

Fallout from the incident added to the sore of shortage in the supply of electricity which was caused by lower water levels in the reservoirs due to less rain across the country.

The violence also disrupted rail transport, affecting supply of daily essentials, including wheat flour, in some cities. The government said it was trying to increase flour supply.

Sharif said the recent assassination of Bhutto had negative and serious consequences for Pakistan.

"The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has proved to be a big blow," he said, adding that there was a need for reconciliation.

The opposition leader acknowledged he knew about media reports on him being on a hit list by terrorist organizations.

"I don't know whether it was true or not," he said.


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