Bhutto warns Musharraf of a movement against his rule
The former PM warns the Pak president that if he fails to restore democracy and civilian rule, she will launch a democratic movement against him.Updated: Aug 16, 2007 12:59 IST
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has warned Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that if he fails to restore democracy and civilian rule in the country she would return and lead a democratic movement against him.
"Time is running out for him", she said pointing at non-fulfilment of promises made to her Pakistan People Party by the General as the confidence-building measures at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) on Wednesday
The measures include steps to ensure free and fair elections in which she and Nawaz Sharif can participate, lifting the ban on a person becoming prime minister for the third time and General Musharraf shedding his uniform.
The ban makes both Bhutto and Sharif ineligible to become prime minister for the third time.
Bhutto, who is reportedly cutting deal with Musharraf which will enable her return to Pakistan, asked the US to link any future American aid to the restoration of democracy and called on the international community to make a long-term commitment to strengthen the country's institutions that would isolate and counter terrorists.
Describing the corruption charges an attempt to divert attention from institutionalised military corruption, she said they are "politically motivated" and nothing has so far been proved against her.
Similar charges were also leveled against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to remove him, she said.
Bhutto told the council, her party had put its popularity on the lines by entering into a dialogue with Musharraf and now it is time for him to deliver on his promises.
Conceding that an alliance with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf could politically hurt her, she said she does not want to be seen as bailing out the "unpopular military dictatorship".
"When we are doing this for a level playing field, when we're doing this for a higher cause, which is the restoration of the people's right to elect a government of their choice, that should translate into tangible measures," Bhutto said.
"And if it doesn't translate into tangible measures, then it can be misinterpreted by the people at large," she added.
Rejecting Musharraf's contention that her and Sharif's return would destabilise the country, she said only PML-Q, the party aligned to the President, would be destabilised.
Bhutto said the democratic system had never been given fair chance to succeed as the country has been under military dictatorship for most of the years since 1958.
Out of ten years, the people of Pakistan elected her as prime minister, she had serve only for five years, she told the audience.
"But now the situation has become so serious that smooth transition to democracy is very necessary," she said, charging Musharraf of trying to delay the return of civilian rule and shedding his uniform.
Bhutto, holding the military regime responsible for the rise of extremism in the country said, "the policies followed by this regime has drastically changed the situation on the ground."
Describing the agreement between Musharraf and the tribal elders as a "terrible mistake", she said,"The agreement resulted in the withdrawal of Pakistani forces operating against terrorists in areas bordering Afghanistan on promise by the elders that they would not allow Al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists to operate from their territory."
But, since then, the terrorists and extremists have strengthened their position in the lawless region over which Islamabad's writ does not run.
"Why should the government of Pakistan enter into an agreement with foreigners -- Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda made up of mostly Arabs?" she questioned and said,"We cannot placate these elements, and place Pakistan's sovereignty and integrity at stake".
The first priority of the government, she said, should be to go back to the area over which the writ of the country does not run and this could be done effectively only by a democratic government with roots among the people.
First Published: Aug 16, 2007 12:49 IST