Monday, August 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bhutto may move court for poll participation

Islamabad, August 4
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is bracing for a showdown with the ruling junta as she announced her decision to return to Pakistan on September 6 to participate in the elections at all costs.

The regime has gone to the extent of changing rules to keep her and another exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of fray, but she said yesterday, “If I am kept out of elections I will seek legal remedy.”

Her party — the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — has made elaborate arrangements to ensure that she participates in the elections.

Ms Bhutto will approach court in the first instance to seek bail against her conviction by an accountability court for her wilful absence and for not attending the court’s proceedings, PPP sources said.

The court had convicted and sentenced her to three years’ imprisonment, confiscated her property and banned her from taking part in politics.

She is expected to land in the country alongwith a formidable media and Congressional team from the USA and European Union countries much before the October elections, according to reports.

A large number of US congressmen have given their consent to come to Pakistan alongwith the exiled leader, the reports said.

Indications that Mr Sharif might afterall not return for the elections have boosted the chances of Ms Bhutto.

The military regime yesterday announced a set of new changes in the election laws proposed last month.

The changes restore the 10 reserved seats for minorities in the National Assembly, reduce number of seats in the Assembly from 357 to 342 by dropping proposed 25 seats meant for technocrats and revert the senate to its earlier permanent position.

Meanwhile, another former military dictator Zia-ul Haq’s son Ejazul Haq has threatened to approach Supreme Court if he is prevented from contesting for the post of president of the pro-government faction of Pakistan Muslim League (PML) against Mian Azhar. UNI

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