(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Political parties challenge ban

A new broad-based alliance of 18 Pakistani opposition parties has threatened to defy a military government ban on political activities if they are not allowed to hold public rallies, the BBC reported on Tuesday. Calling it perhaps the most significant opposition alliance formed in Pakistan in more than 30 years, the report said the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) included the two main rival parties: the Pakistan People’s Party of Benazir Bhutto and the Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif.

The Alliance leader, Nawabzaba Nasrullah Khan, who said that almost all the prominent political parties were part of the new grouping, is reported to have asked General Musharraf not to ignore their demands and said that the current government’s restrictions on political activities were not acceptable. Khan warned if they were not removed, they would defy the ban by holding public rallies, the report said. Meanwhile, the government of General Musharraf, which seized power on 12 October 1999, played down the significance of the ARD and rejected its main demand: that elections be held at an early date.

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