Benazir lands in Pakistan after eight years exile

November 14th, 2007 - 2:27 am ICT by admin  
Bhutto left for Pakistan on plane from the Dubai Airport at 11-00 a.m. local time.

She is traveling with Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Nahid Khan, Rehman Malik, Sanam Bhutto and Laila besides other leaders and workers of the party.

Earlier, the plane’s departure was delayed at the Dubai Airport twice due to the extraordinary security arrangements surrounding the flight.

Bhutto said that Pakistan stands at the crossroad of dictatorship and democracy. Talking with media in the Al-Mashriq VIP lounge of Dubai Airport, she said that I believe in miracles and my returning home is a miracle.

She said that my travel is the journey of the 160 million people of Pakistan, and added that my life and everything is dedicated to Pakistan and I thank the millions of people coming from each and every nook and corner of the country.

Bhutto said that her welcome would be greater than the welcome in 1986 and those who have come for welcoming her want the end of dearness and unemployment.

Bhutto left her residence in Dubai shortly after 7.00 a.m. for her journey to Pakistan.

She left the country soon after Musharraf seized power in a coup in October 1999.

“It is a historic journey our leader is making to Pakistan. It will change the destiny of our country,” said Javed Yaqoob, a Pakistan People’s Party official.

Bhutto, wearing a green shalwar kameez and white headscarf, waved to well-wishers as she was driven past in a black Mercedes, seated alongside her two daughters and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Her maid and dog came to the door to see them off.

Meanwhile, large numbers of supporters of Bhutto have gathered at the Karachi International Airport to accord a warm welcome to her.

Throughout the night crowds of supporters began gathering in Karachi. We began walking here 12 days ago, but this is nothing compared with Benazir’s sacrifices for us,” said Dana Ram, Bhutto’s supporter.

Another supporter, Habibullah said: “She’s a blessing for the poor people of Pakistan… Our sister is coming and we’re not afraid of anything.”

Thousands of local leaders and workers of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians travelled in thousands of cars, jeeps, wagons, buses and coaches for Karachi from different parts of Sindh to receive Bhutto.

People are coming from here from several parts of Pakistan, but especially from all corners of Sindh province, a PPP stronghold.

Rafique Jamali, President PPP Dadu, claimed that there would be two seas in the Karachi city: First one the Arabian Ocean and second one the sea of humanity.

Soon after her arrival at the airport, party workers will accompany Bhutto from the airport to the mausoleum of Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah in a massive procession.

About 20,000 troops and police have been deployed in Karachi amid threats by Islamist militants to assassinate Bhutto.

Javed Iqbal Cheema, a Pakistani Interior Ministry spokesman, said he was confident about the security arrangements.

“I’m sure the (provincial) government will take all possible measures to provide foolproof security arrangements, which I’m told, are already in place,” he said.

Some 2,500 paramilitary troops have been deployed around Karachi Airport alone, according to one security spokesman.

In Karachi, about 200,000 people are lining the 6km (four mile) route from the airport into the city.

Many are dressed in the red, black and green colours of Ms Bhutto’s PPP party and there is a carnival atmosphere, with some playing music and food stalls being set up.

Celebratory gunfire has already been heard overnight. On Thursday, schools and many roads will be closed in Pakistan’s biggest city.

Bhutto left the country soon after Musharraf seized power in a coup in October 1999.

Washington has backed a power-sharing deal with Musharraf, which would see Bhutto becoming Prime Minister for the third time.

The US has become increasingly concerned over the military’s inability to defeat Islamist extremists and Musharraf’s rising unpopularity.

Bhutto’s negotiators have three main demands: The dropping of corruption charges against her, the repeal of a law banning anyone from being Prime Minister three times, which affects both her and Nawaz Sharif, and the surrender of the President’s right to dissolve Parliament.

Musharraf met the first of those demands in an ordinance signed on 5 October, but the Supreme Court says it needs to decide if it is legal.

If it rules against it, then Bhutto could face arrest and prosecution on corruption charges dating back several years. (ANI)

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