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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Musharraf Rivals Consider Alliance

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's main rivals began talks on forming an alliance against him as the military leader finalized a caretaker government and political unrest worsened, leaving two children dead, officials said Thursday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, detained opposition leader Benazir Bhutto proposed setting up a government of national unity with other parties to replace Musharraf before January elections. The U.S.-backed general on Wednesday dismissed her calls for him to resign.

Musharraf is already under Western pressure to end the emergency rule he imposed Nov. 3. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is to visit Pakistan on Friday and is expected to push for him to restore the constitution and free thousands of arrested opponents.

Deepening the crisis, unidentified protesters opened "indiscriminate gunfire" in Karachi, killing two boys aged 11 and 12, police officer Aslam Gujjar said. They were the first reported deaths in unrest during the emergency.

Supporters of Bhutto had clashed with police in the same violence-ridden neighborhood since morning. The protesters, angry at Bhutto's current house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore, traded fire with police who also used tear gas to try to disperse them.

Police and hospital officials said eight protesters and one policeman suffered gunshot wounds and that firing was continuing.

Bhutto said she was contacting other opposition parties to get them on board for the unity government that would govern until elections led to a new permanent administration.

"I am talking to the other opposition parties to find out whether they are in a position to come together," she said. "We need to see whether we can come up with an interim government of national consensus to whom power can be handed."