Despite a call by an opposition group for boycotting the upcoming general elections, former Pakistan prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif will file their nominations on Monday, the last day to submit the papers for their candidature.
Pakistan People's Party chairperson Bhutto will file her nomination papers from two parliamentary constituencies in Larkana, a traditional stronghold of her family in Punjab province.
Bhutto will file her nominations on Monday in Larkana, her party sources said. Sharif, the head of the PML-N party, will file nominations with his wife Kulsoom and his brother Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore.
The All Parties Democratic Movement, of which the PML-N is a member, on Saturday said it would boycott parliamentary polls if President Pervez Musharraf did not end the emergency, restore fundamental rights and reinstate deposed judges of the Supreme Court within four days.
The APDM said it was also in talks with the PPP to convince Bhutto to boycott polls held in a state of emergency. Bhutto, who travelled from Islamabad to Karachi on Sunday after meeting with PPP leaders to assess the political situation, has so far been non-committal on boycotting the election.
Both the PML-N and the PPP have indicated that if all political parties agreed on a boycott, their candidates could withdraw their nomination papers.
PML-N leader Ishaq Dar, a confidant of Sharif, said it was "common sense" as Monday is the last date to file nominations papers.
Dar argued that his PML-N could be caught on the wrong foot if leaders like Sharif did not file nominations and the other opposition parties decided to contest the polls.
The APDM is itself facing differences among its constituents on the call for a boycott. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman did not attend the grouping's meeting on Saturday and subsequently said his party would contest the polls.
Political observers have also pointed out that Sharif and Bhutto will have to contend with the problem of seeking a third prime ministerial term even if their parties decide to contest the election and they get elected.
The existing law bars both two-time premiers from another term, and can be amended only with the backing of two-thirds of the total strength of the parliament.
It is unlikely that either the PPP or PML-N will be in a position to do this as the polls are expected to throw up a hung parliament, observers said.