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Attack on Pakistan poll meeting

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REUTERS

Christian supporters of Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician and chairman of political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), hold placard as they light candles next a portrait of Khan in Lahore May 8, 2013.

Islamabad - Two people were killed and one wounded in a bomb attack on an election meeting in Pakistan, while campaigning slowed Wednesday after popular candidate Imran Khan was injured in a fall.

The bomb was planted near a house where a meeting of a candidate from the secular Awami National Party (ANP) was taking place in Khar, in the Bajaur tribal district, an official told dpa.

Since April, more than 110 people have been killed in more than 50 bombings.

The Pakistani Taliban, have announced “jihad” against the May 11 elections, which would see the first transition from one civilian government to another.

Campaigning was lacklustre following cricketer-turned-politician Khan's injury in Lahore on Tuesday and a decision by his main opponent, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif, to cancel poll activities for a day in a show of solidarity.

Khan fell from a forklift that was elevating him to stage as he prepared to address thousands of supporters.

“Three vertebrae have been fractured but the spine is intact with no neurologic compromises and Khan has full control over his body,” said his doctor, Faisal Sultan, adding that a rib was also fractured.

The 60-year-old, who was moved out of intensive care, also received stitches on his scalp.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has emerged as one of three main parties in the electoral race. In its latest survey Wednesday, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said Sharif and Khan were leading the opinion polls.

“Incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari receives negative reviews: 83 per cent express an unfavorable opinion of him. In contrast, two-thirds have a positive view of ... Sharif. Six-in-ten also have a positive opinion about ... Khan,” it said.

In an interview with Indian broadcaster CNN-IBN, two-time prime minister Sharif said he would work for improved relations with arch-rival India if he comes to power.

“If I become the prime minister I will make sure that Pakistani soil is never used for any such designs against India,” Sharif said.

“I think we must never allow our territories to be used by such elements and these are the ones who deliberately want to spoil the relationship.”

In 1999, Sharif and then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee signed the Lahore declaration, which was aimed at defusing tensions in the region following tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998.

Sharif said he wanted to take Pakistan-India ties back to the high trajectory. “We will start from where we were interrupted in 1999 ... If we get a chance to serve this country, this will be one of our main priorities.”

With Khan out of action, his party posted on Twitter that he would make an address to his supporters in Islamabad, most likely via video streaming from his hospital bed.

Zardari, of the Pakistan People's Party, expressed sympathy with Khan but continued low-keyed campaign. Most of it was through paid TV advertisements based on old speeches of his wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007. - Sapa-dpa


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