Benazir hints at 'deal' with Musharraf, may join government
Apr 26, 2007 - 5:16:48 PM

Islamabad, April 26 - Within days of denying that she was concluding a 'deal' with President Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto has hinted that it was on and that she might join the military-led government for the country's 'democratic, constitutional and development interests'.

Last week, Musharraf had also denied that any deal was on and opposed Bhutto's participation in the polls due later this year.

But Bhutto, who is living in exile in Britain, said she may go for the deal, even though her 'political credibility' would suffer if she joined the military-led government, she said at a seminar in London Wednesday.

Her statements, during an hour-long speech, 'stunned the audience', The News said Thursday.

It was the first time that Bhutto gave a clear hint to the Pakistani audience that she was ready to take the risk of getting politically 'discredited' by joining the Musharraf-led government in Pakistan.

During the seminar, organised by the Pakistan Society at the London School of Economics, the Pakistan Peoples' Party chairperson justified any future arrangement with Musharraf in the name of 'restoration of democracy, Constitution and rule of law and development'.

Although in her recent interviews Bhutto has been saying that she is ready for a deal, but it is the first time that she has openly indicated that she might join the Musharraf-led government.

The New York Times recently spoke of a deal that would provide Musharraf with the necessary secular backing and credibility that would help him fight off the political offensive from Islamist parties.

Earlier, the self-exiled PPP chairperson lashed out at the present government for failing to control militancy in Pakistan. She said the rulers were using these militant forces to prolong their rule.

She said the religious parties were deliberately promoted in Pakistan by the military establishment to show the West that if the military rulers were not backed in Pakistan the religious elements would take over the country.

That is why, Bhutto said, instead of Pakistan Peoples Party's Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who enjoyed the support of majority, Islamist politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman was promoted as opposition leader in the National Assembly.

To a question, she said it was her government's mistake to support the Taliban movement within Afghanistan. Bhutto said she had supported the Taliban in the hope that they would restore peace in their war-ravaged country to pave way for repatriation of four million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

She also told the Pakistani students studying in different colleges and universities of London that the time has come to reform the military and intelligence agencies of Pakistan, and sought their suggestions in this regard.

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