Benazir says she's bent on returning to Pak

Updated on May 21, 2007 08:28 PM IST
Despite the Pak president's refusal to allow her and Sharif into the country till the election, Benazir says she is bent on returning much earlier, reports Vijay Dutt.
HT Image
HT Image
Hindustan Times | ByVijay Dutt, London

Within hours of President Pervez Musharraf saying he would not allow Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan till the national elections, Bhutto has responded that she is bent on returning much earlier, come what may.

She has been lately meeting a number of her party leaders - exiled, like herself - in London and Dubai to chalk out her return schedule, and also - if possible - broker a few alliances, sources close to her told the Hindustan Times. "But even if no alliance is stitched together she will go it alone," said Wajid Shamshul Hasan, a former Pakistan High Commissioner in Britain who is now her close adviser.

The tentative plan is for her to fly from London with a large team of over 150 people: including journalists, MPs, political analysts and human rights activists as soon as election schedules are announced. The present National Assembly's tenure will end in October and elections, as per the Pakistan Constitution, have to be held within 90 days after that. "It means she may go in September or October," said Hasan.

Where she will land is still not decided. But it will not be kept a secret. "We want a million people to come out to greet her," said Hasan. And since she intends to take a regular flight, and not a chartered one, it will not be possible for the military regime to refuse the aircraft permission to land.

But HT has learnt that landing at Karachi or Islamabad is ruled out, given the recent carnage in Karachi and the likely clampdown in Pakistan's Capital. At the moment Peshawar appears to be the favoured destination.

There are political compulsions and ground realities that make it imperative for her to return. Her Pakistan's Peoples Party (PPP) won the maximum votes in the last elections in October 2002, with people turning out defiantly in her support even though she was far away. But reports are that this round they may not support her as much unless she is physically present.

Bhutto also knows that, once she lands anywhere in Pakistan, Musharraf cannot deport her. He can only take her into custody and that may prove to be the last straw for the people's tolerance of the general. The country may plunge into chaos, which surely his backers like the United States and Britain would not want. The British High Commissioner there has already said that Musharraf must restore full democracy and choose between his uniform and civilian outfit.

Bhutto is ready to dare Mushrraf to detain her while suggesting that he should call a round table conference of all political leaders including Nawaz Sharif to evolve ways for a fair and transparent election.

Meanwhile Sharif, who is these days in London, has also showed his inclination to return before elections, even if he is arrested. But the problem is that, as a source pointed out, there is an agreement signed between him and the General. Under its terms Musharraf can deport him back to Saudi Arabia whenever he arrives.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • British Royal Air Force pilots aboard a military aircraft. (RAF/ Facebook)

    Britain’s RAF flights transporting ammunition from Pakistan to Ukraine?

    Britain's Royal Air Force has been running near-daily flights with a C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft from Romania to an airbase in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi since early this month, data from flight tracking websites have shown. It was not immediately clear what sort of equipment was being airlifted by the massive RAF aircraft. The flights involved a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III of the RAF with the call sign 'ZZ173'.

  • The auctioning of abandoned contents is a common practice for storage units with unpaid bills.

    Human remains 'found in suitcases' sold at N. Zealand auction

    New Zealand police have begun a homicide investigation after human remains were allegedly found stashed in suitcases that were bought at an auction in the country's largest city Auckland. Read New Zealand welcomes back first cruise ship since Covid-19 pandemic began Residents at a home in South Auckland called police last Thursday after making the grisly discovery, police official Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua confirmed.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Putin slams US for whipping up Asian tensions with Taiwan visit and AUKUS pact

    Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Tuesday of whipping up tensions in Asia, describing a visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "thoroughly planned provocation". In a speech to a Moscow security conference, Putin also cited the AUKUS security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States as evidence of Western attempts to build a NATO-style bloc in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • China’s research and survey vessel, the Yuan Wang 5, docked at Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on Tuesday. (AFP)

    Chinese tracking ship docks at Sri Lankan port; Beijing says third party should not ‘obstruct’ cooperation

    China on Tuesday said the docking of a Chinese missile and spacecraft tracking ship in the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota for replenishment will not affect the security interests of any country and should not be “obstructed” by a third party, in an apparent reference to India. The docking of the ship comes a day after India handed over a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to the Sri Lanka Navy. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin then reiterated the point.

  • China takes steps to make fertility treatment more accessible.

    China to discourage abortions, aims at boosting the low birth rate

    China will discourage abortions and take steps to make fertility treatment more accessible as part of efforts to boost one of the world's lowest birth rates, its National Health Authority said on Tuesday. China's fertility rate of 1.16 in 2021 was far below the 2.1 OECD standard for a stable population and among the lowest in the world. Technology such as IVF is typically very expensive in China and not accessible to unmarried women.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now