‘Can Musharraf, Benazir trust each other?’

November 14th, 2007 - 1:52 am ICT by admin  
Lamb, who had covered Pakistan during Benazir Bhutto’s first stint as Prime Minister for British newspapers, recalls Bhutto as saying that her life will be at risk.

On seizing power in October 1999, overthrowing her rival Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf blamed Bhutto more than anyone for Pakistan’s problems.

“She had the brains and the opportunity,” Musharraf said, swearing that he would never let her return to power.

But according to Lamb by the end of last year, worried by the worsening situation in Pakistan and fed up with years in the political wilderness, Bhutto responded to entreaties from the (British) Foreign Office and the US State Department to open negotiations with Musharraf.

Since the Bhutto-Musharraf talks began, the balance of power between them has shifted dramatically. Musharraf’s attempts to remove Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry led to nation wide protests by lawyers, and he now needs Bhutto more than she needs him.

“Musharraf is on his knees,” Bhutto’s closest advisers told Lamb.

As recently as last Wednesday, the talks were at a stalemate. But after some hard bargaining they finally reached an agreement on Thursday whereby the cases against Bhutto would be dropped and her safe return guaranteed.

Musharraf has apparently also agreed an interim government to oversee parliamentary elections that must be held by January 2008, the Dawn reported.

In return, Bhutto’s MPs did not walk out of Parliament during Musharraf’s re-election on October 6, instead abstaining from voting.

Bhutto denies that by remaining they legitimised the election. “If we had voted for an uniformed President we would be legitimising it. But we refused to vote for a military President and Musharraf understands that.”

Bhutto does not deny American involvement in the deal, and admits she held a series of meetings with Richard Boucher, the US Assistant Secretary of State.

“I know some people are saying this is an American plan, but my agenda has always been a Pakistan agenda,” she said.

Since 1977 the US has supported military dictatorship, first General Zia ul Haq, then Musharraf, so it’s a very welcome development that the US is calling out for democracy and the holding of free and fair elections,” Bhutto said.

“You need to involve the people in any battles, so far the war on terror has been seen as America’s war, when in fact it’s our own war,” she added. (ANI)

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