Karachi prepares for Bhutto homecoming
The chief minister of Sindh province has ordered the removal of all Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) flags and festoons as Karachi prepares to receive former prime minister and PPP chief Benazir Bhutto.
Bhutto may fly from Dubai to Pakistan's largest city Karachi on Thursday. Her homecoming after eight years is mired in political and legal controversies.
Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim ordered on Monday that all the PPP flags hoisted on government buildings should be removed.
Rahim said he received complaints that PPP flags and banners were being placed on government and private buildings by force, The News reported Tuesday.
Rahim issued directives to Sindh police and town nazims (officials) to remove PPP flags from the government buildings and pylons all the way from Karachi airport to Bilawal House, the Bhutto family residence in the Clifton area of the city.
Bhutto decided to return after striking a political deal with President Pervez Musharraf, who signed a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) earlier this month. However, the Supreme Court has stayed the ordinance.
In effect, the stay should mean restoration of all the cases pertaining to corruption charges against Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, waived under the NRO.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz confirmed this. He said on Sunday that Bhutto was free to return to Pakistan even if past corruption charges may return to haunt her.
Interviewed on CNN, Aziz said, "The people have had a strong reaction to removal of corruption cases against Ms Bhutto."
Bhutto has been urged to postpone her return to avoid political turmoil in Pakistan, as per reports. But she has said she will stick to her plans.
She told a TV channel on Monday that Musharraf did not have problems with her return, but the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid) did.
Despite Aziz's current posture on CNN, media reports have said that PML(Q) has been unhappy with Bhutto as it would have to share power with her party.