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Pain of exile shows on Benazir

Bhutto refrained from washing the dirty linen of Pakistani politics, but the pain of being banished from her own country showed.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2003 20:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

In her address at the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative Conference, Benazir Bhutto largely refrained from washing the dirty linen of Pakistani politics. But the pain of being banished from her own country showed.

Lauding the HT initiative, she expressed the hope that a similar conference would be organised by a Pakistani newspaper, which she hoped she'd be able to attend.

Infusing an element of emotion in an otherwise heavily political speech, Bhutto remarked: "For now, I'm in exile. I'm banned from my country. I am banned from contesting for Premiership of my country, banned from contesting even as a backbencher, banned from seing my husband who is in the eighth year of his imprisonment, banned from entering my ancestral homes, banned from praying at the graves of my martyred father and brothers."

She said she does not despair in the face of odds. Her choices were made at the last meeting she had with her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the Rawalpindi Prison before his execution. "That was the choice to fight for peace and democracy," she remarked, expressing the hope that the realities would change.

"I know that realities change. That a person can go from Prime Minister to prisoner and from prisoner to Prime Minister. I have seen power from the time that was a child," she remarked, adding that the wheel of history turns for individuals and nations.

She recalled that there was a time when IK Gujral (then Prime Minister of India) could not visit Jhelum (in Pakistan), the city where he was born because our two countries were at cross-purposes. Now he, though an Indian, can visit Jhelum and Bhutto, though a Pakistani, cannot visit her Larkana.

Quite obviously, Bhutto, the Daughter of the East, who's twice been her country's Prime Minister, expects the wheel of history to turn again, enabling her and her one time arch foe, Nawaz Sharif, to return home to work for democracy in Pakistan.

First Published: Dec 13, 2003 20:11 IST