The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Musharraf warning to election observers

Islamabad, Sept. 30 (Reuters): Pakistan’s military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf warned foreign election observers today against making comments ahead of polls designed to restore civilian rule, the official APP news agency reported.

The warning came a day after a newspaper reported that EU observers had criticised the political manoeuvring that has kept former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif out of the October 10 polls.

Musharraf said international monitors should restrict themselves to observing the transparency of the elections and refrain from making comments on Pakistan’s political culture. “They might be having knowledge of political cultures of their own countries but we understand better about local politics,” he said.

Pakistani officials rejected Bhutto’s bid to stand in the elections, saying she had been convicted in July of failing to appear in court to answer corruption charges.

Sharif was overthrown in Musharraf’s bloodless 1999 coup and then exiled to Saudi Arabia. He bowed out of the contest to show solidarity with Bhutto but election tribunals barred his brother and wife from contesting the polls. The Daily Times newspaper quoted an interim report from the EU observers as saying the disqualification of the Sharif family had no legal basis while the exclusion of Bhutto was “questionable”.

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