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Bhutto to resort to 'virtual' campaign

Her campaign for Pak's general elections will see phone messages and taped speeches to avoid attacks.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Islamabad
UPDATED ON OCT 23, 2007 02:23 PM IST

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has said she is mulling a "virtual" campaign for Pakistan's upcoming general election that will use phone messages and taped speeches to avoid violent attacks like the suicide bombing at her homecoming rally in Karachi last week.

"Intimidation by murdering cowards will not be allowed to derail Pakistan's transition to democracy," Bhutto wrote in an opinion piece in the prestigious Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

"We are now focusing on hybrid techniques that combine individual and mass voter contact with sharp security constraints," said the 54-year-old two-time former premier whose motorcade was rocked within hours after her return from self-exile by two blasts that killed nearly 140 people.

"Where people have telephones, we can experiment with taped voice messages from me describing my issue positions and urging them to vote. In rural areas we are contemplating taped messages from me played regularly on boom boxes set up in village centres.

"Instead of the traditional mass caravans of Pakistani politics, we are discussing the feasibility of 'virtual caravans' and 'virtual mass rallies' where I would deliver important campaign addresses to large audiences all over the four provinces of Pakistan," said Bhutto, who had yesterday opposed the Pakistan government's plan to ban rallies ahead of the general election due by mid-January.

Bhutto, who has made two brief appearances in public since the blasts, also said that she would have to "modify" her poll campaign while keeping alive elements of the "mass, grassroots, people-to-people politics" of her party.

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