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Pakistan's Bhutto Accuses Spy Agency of Pressuring Election Candidates 


Pakistani opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has accused government security forces of pressuring candidates to drop out of next month's elections.

Ms. Bhutto told reporters during a campaign stop Thursday that the government is sending intelligence officials to ask candidates to withdraw.

Next month's elections are for assemblies in Pakistan's four provinces and a national assembly from which a prime minister and a government will be chosen.

The vote is seen as a three-way race among the opposition parties of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf.

However, opposition political figures accuse Mr. Musharraf of already rigging the balloting to favor his supporters.

In other news, Pakistani authorities have temporarily released lawyer and opposition figure Aitzaz Ahsan for three days to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Ahsan, a senior figure in Ms. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, was detained last month under emergency powers that President Musharraf invoked on November 3.

He served as lead counsel for Supreme Court Chief Justice Itikhar Chaudhry, whose suspension earlier this year triggered nationwide protests.

The protests led to Mr. Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule and his dismissal of Chaudhry and other judges seen as hostile to the president's reelection while he remained army chief.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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