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Pakistan Plans to Hold General Elections on January 8


Pakistan's caretaker prime minister says the government has no immediate plans to postpone general elections scheduled for January 8. The announcement came a day after the assassination of prominent opposition leader Benazir Bhutto plunged the country into turmoil, and triggered violent protests. From New Delhi Anjana Pasricha has a report.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro said Friday "elections stand as they were announced." He said any decision to delay the January 8 vote will only be made after consultation with all political parties.

Speculation the elections could be postponed follows the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto Thursday in Rawalpindi.

The killing has prompted another opposition leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to announce his party will boycott the elections

Sharif says the attack shows that Pakistan cannot hold free and fair elections under President Pervez Musharraf. He says there can be no peace under his leadership.

Meanwhile, violent protests over Ms. Bhutto's assassination continue in several cities.

President Musharraf has blamed terrorists for the attack and vowed to root out Islamic extremism in Pakistan.

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