'Bhutto firm on returning to Pak on Oct 18'
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's party on Monday said she is determined to return to Pakistan from self-exile on October 18 as the government insisted she delay her homecoming till the Supreme Court decides on petitions against President Pervez Musharraf's re-election and a law giving Bhutto amnesty in graft cases.
In the face of speculation that Bhutto might put off her return following veiled warnings from the government about the impact of an adverse ruling by the apex court, Pakistan People's Party spokesperson Sherry Rehman said there was "no confusion" about the two-time prime minister's programme to fly in to Karachi on Thursday.
"We have repeatedly announced that she (Bhutto) is on schedule as per her original programme," Rehman said.
Rehman claimed there was "some kind of conspiracy afoot" by "insecure government circles", which were worried by the public response to Bhutto's decision to return home after being in self-imposed exile since 1999 as well as the massive arrangements being made by the PPP to welcome her.
"Perhaps that is leading to some of the deep-seated insecurity (in the government) to confront the challenge (posed by) Bhutto," Rehman said.
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a close confidant of Musharraf, however, said the ruling PML-Q was "not afraid" of Bhutto.
The petitions challenging Musharraf's candidacy to contest the presidential poll in uniform will come up in the Supreme Court on October 17 and the petition challenging the ordinance which gives amnesty to Bhutto will come up for hearing in November.
He indicated the government expected Bhutto to give a "final decision" about her return on October 16.