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Benazir refuses to announce date of return

world Updated: Sep 01, 2007 22:20 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
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Benazir Bhutto, unlike Nawaz Sharif, has refused to announce a specific date on which she will return to Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday Bhutto said she would announce her date of return, and where she would land, on September 14. “I am definitely going back,” she said. “My aim is to restore democracy and build a Pakistan free of terror and militancy.”

She insisted she would bring the tribal areas and Waziristan under full government control if elected to power.

While revealing that there was 80 per cent agreement with President Pervez Musharraf on the package deal they were working on, she claimed she had no idea of when the remaining 20 per cent would be worked out, and that they had reached ‘a stalemate’.

The Hindustan Times has learnt that Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, Director General of the ISI, and Tariq Aziz, secretary of Pakistan’s National Security Council were in London earlier this week for further negotiations with Bhutto.

The talks had evidently not been as fruitful as expected.

Asked to respond to Imran Khan’s charge that the United States was pressuring both herself and Musharraf to reach an understanding, she said there had been no tripartite talks. “But we have kept the US authorities aware of the progress of the talks,” she added significantly.

How would she respond if Nawaz Sharif was arrested on his return to Pakistan? “We will react if and when if and when he is arrested,” she said cautiously.

She is clearing waiting and watching to see how Sharif is treated when he lands in Pakistan, before finalising her own travel plans.

Asked if a reconciliation with Sharif was possible, she said, “If he returns to the alliance for the restoration of democracy, I would welcome it.”