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Pakistan goes to vote

Srinagar, February 18, 2008:

Voting in Pakistan for new a parliament has begun Monday amid fears of violence.

Around 80,000 troops and 400,000 police have been deployed across the country to prevent violence.

The voting previously scheduled for Jan 8, were postponed in the wake of heavy violence following the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a suicide attack during a poll campaign in Rawalpindi on December 27.

Opinion polls are projecting a lead for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) followed by Pakistan Mulsim League (N) led by ex-premier Nawaz Sharif.

President Musharraf loyalist Pakistani Muslim League (Q) is likely to trail.

Bombings in the run up to the polls have left over 400 people dead and scores injured in past weeks.

Police officials are blaming Taliban militants for the attacks, however no such responsibility was taken by Taliban groups.

Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari has appealed for national unity, a BBC report said.

He however also warned of a civil war if the "polls are rigged".

Pakistani authorities have insisted the vote will be free and fair.

Hunderds of international obsevers are present in the country to assess the fairness of polls.

The outcome of elections will also go on to decide the future role of President Musharraf in the country.

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