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'Pak may be taken over by extremists'

Bhutto, who survived the terror attack in Karachi, said the restoration of democracy is a must to save Pakistan.

world Updated: Nov 03, 2007 14:18 IST

Warning that Pakistan is facing an "increasing threat of an extremist takeover," former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto has said the deadly suicide attack on her homecoming procession may have been the handiwork of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's son Hamza.

Bhutto, who survived the terror attack in Karachi on October 18 that killed nearly 140 people and injured hundreds more, said the restoration of democracy is a must to save Pakistan.

The 54-year-old two-time Prime Minister said she believed the attack might have been the handiwork of Hamza Bin Laden, the son of Osama Bin Laden, and repeated her demand that the Pakistan government should seek assistance from foreign countries in probing the incident.

"Elements in the Pakistan administration may have been complicit in the attack and Scotland Yard and FBI specialists should be brought in to help the police investigation," she told ARY news channel in Dubai, where she is currently visiting her family.

Bhutto, who left Pakistan for Dubai just two weeks after returning from eight years in self-exile, said she did not have any evidence to suggest the involvement of President Pervez Musharraf in the assassination attempt on her.

However, key members of the political apparatus "loathe" her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) for its vision of a federal democratic state, she said.

Bhutto had earlier written a letter to Musharraf in which she claimed certain senior officials posed a threat to her life.

Though she has not publicly named these persons, media reports claimed they included Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Intelligence Bureau chief Ijaz Shah.

She said the attack had made her "more determined to continue" her fight for the restoration of democracy as she warned that Pakistan was facing an "increasing threat of an extremist takeover."

The former Premier also indicated that she might not hold further negotiations with Musharraf if he imposes emergency in the country. She said she would oppose Musharraf if he continues to use his position as Army Chief and cautioned that this might "demoralise the armed forces".

Bhutto has said that she has gone to Dubai to meet her family and ailing mother, but her sudden departure has sparked speculation that she fears that emergency or martial law might be imposed in Pakistan in view of the prevailing political uncertainty and worsening law and order situation.

Reports have also suggested that Bhutto may not return till the Supreme Court decides on petitions challenging Musharraf's re-election in uniform in the October six presidential poll. A verdict is expected next week.

First Published: Nov 03, 2007 13:36 IST