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Opposition Leaders Target Musharraf During Campaign


Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif says the country's president has made Pakistan a laughing stock of the world by removing the judiciary.

During a campaign rally Monday in the town of Sukkur in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh, Sharif also criticized President Pervez Musharraf for following the wishes of the United States.

Both Sharif and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto are traveling throughout Pakistan in an effort to win support for their respective parties ahead of the country's January 8 parliamentary elections. Sharif is banned from seeking a seat himself due to past criminal convictions.

Both leaders have sharply criticized President Musharraf, saying the elections will be rigged in his favor. They also blame Mr. Musharraf's government for the rise of Islamic militancy in Pakistan.

In the latest violence, authorities say at least nine people, including four security personnel, were killed Sunday during a suicide car bombing in the volatile northwest.

The attack, which also wounded some 23 others, took place Sunday near the town of Mingora in Swat Valley - the scene of fighting between security forces and fighters loyal to a pro-Taliban cleric.

Meanwhile, Pakistani police continue to investigate Friday's suicide bombing in Peshawar in North West Frontier province that targeted former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, but killed at least 50 worshippers instead.

Sherpao, who is running for a seat in Pakistan's parliament, vowed Sunday to continue his campaign, and said such inhuman acts will not deter him from serving his country.

Police say they have detained several people in connection with Friday's attack, including two Afghan refugees. One man is said to be a student at an Islamic school (madrassa), the other a local prayer leader.

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

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