M A I N   N E W S

Her ‘long march’ cut off, detained Bhutto wants Mush to go

Lahore, November 13
In her strongest challenge yet to President Pervez Musharraf’s rule, former premier Benazir Bhutto today asked him to quit and vowed never to serve under the “dictator” after she was placed under house arrest to foil her plans to lead an anti-emergency rally, which kicked off here without her.

Bhutto (54) said it was unlikely that her Pakistan People's Party would participate in the general election in January and indicated willingness to form an alliance with other opposition leaders, including Nawaz Sharif.

“We say Musharraf must leave. The time for dictatorship is over. It’s time to bring a transfer to democracy,” said Bhutto, who ruled out serving under Musharraf in any future governments.

“It seems unlikely that the PPP will participate in the upcoming elections,” she told reporters over phone from the house in Lahore, where she is detained.

The election “seems like nothing more than a stage-managed show to return (ruling) PML-Q to power ... Now we’ve come to the conclusion that even if we get power, it will just be a show of power, not substantive power,” she said.

Bhutto’s remarks came after the government launched a renewed crackdown on the opposition by placing her under house arrest for the second time in five days. Earlier on Friday she was put under house arrest in Islamabad to prevent her from addressing a rally.

However, her party started its “long march” against the emergency rule with a convoy of over 100 vehicles moving towards the capital Islamabad without Bhutto, who had been served a seven-day detention order.

Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, president of the Punjab unit of the PPP, led the march with 110 vehicles and thousands of followers, party spokesperson Sherry Rehman said.

About 600 policemen stood guard since midnight outside the home of PPP leader Latif Khosa, where Bhutto is staying in this city, preventing her and other party leaders from stepping out to lead the “long march” to Islamabad.

Earlier, Bhutto told BBC that “there are no circumstances in which I could see myself serving with General Musharraf....I think Musharraf should leave. He’s lost the confidence of people.”

This was for the first time that Bhutto sought the resignation of Musharraf as President. Previously, she had been demanding an end to emergency rule.

Accusing the military ruler of giving up the “democracy roadmap”, she said that polls under emergency will be a sham.

Bhutto said: “I have tried for more than a year.... I worked out a roadmap to democracy. But he went back on that and imposed ‘martial law’.”

Bhutto also said she was in touch with several opposition leaders, including Sharif, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, to form a “coalition of interests”.

The detention order was shown to Bhutto’s aide Naheed Khan and pasted on the door of the house where she was staying in Lahore, top city police official Aftab Cheema said. — PTI



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