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Bugti killing unites Pakistan Opposition

The MMA and ARD appear to have set their differences aside by calling a nationwide strike to protest the Baloch leader's killing.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2006 15:27 IST

The killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti has united Pakistan's warring opposition parties like never before.

Two major alliances, the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the rightwing Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), have called for a nationwide strike on Friday.

In the process, MMA and ARD appear to have set aside their differences on many issues.

"The biggest demonstration of our renewed cohesion is the joining of hands by ARD, MMA and other opposition parties against the government in a big way," MMA leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed told The News International.

He said there were no two opinions among the opposition about last week's killing of Bugti, the legendary leader of Balochistan that has sparked violence in the province as well as in Sind.

The MMA leader said cooperation between the two alliances and other opposition parties would further deepen in the coming weeks.

Leaders of the two alliances say they were never as close as they had become now, in the aftermath of Bugti's killing by the military.

These leaders said Bugti's killing betrayed the government's callousness in dealing with anti-government politicians.

While Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto described Bugti's killing "a blow to the integrity of Pakistan", her former rival Nawaz Sharif has compared the situation to the one that prevailed in 1971 when the eastern wing of Pakistan separated.

Bhutto has called for a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry into the military operation in which Bugti was killed.

She called for the restoration of the Constitution in the form it existed before the 1999 military coup that brought Musharraf to power and an end to military operations in Balochistan.

Sharif warned that Pakistan was headed towards "anarchy".

First Published: Aug 30, 2006 15:27 IST