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Benazir won’t seek permission for return

October 22, 2006

LAHORE, Oct 21: PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto will not seek permission from President Musharraf for returning to the country, says Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

“The owner doesn’t have to seek permission from the watchman to enter his/her house nor the watchman has the right to expect that the owner will seek permission”, said the People’s Party Parliamentarians president.

President Gen Pervez Musharraf said in an interview on Saturday that he would offer his opinion on the return of Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif after they made a formal request.

In a separate interview, Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain had said both the former prime ministers were living abroad for their own reasons and they would not come back even if they were asked to.

Mr Fahim said Ms Bhutto had decided to come back before the general election — and she would ‘come what may.’

He did not give much importance to the invitation extended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to opposition parties for talks on the election.

The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal said it would discuss it at a meeting of its supreme council after a formal invitation was received.

Mr Hussain had said on Saturday that the prime minister was going to invite the opposition parties represented in parliament to discuss with them a code of conduct and measures needed to ensure free and fair election.

“The joint opposition would have discussed the invitation had it come from the powers that be”, said Mr Fahim, who is also chairman of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy.

“We respect the prime minister, but we have to see how powerful he is.”

Mr Fahim said if the invitation came from the real corridors of power, the opposition would discuss it.

He said the opposition had made it clear that an interim government of national consensus and an autonomous election commission should be set up to ensure transparent and fair elections.

Mr Sharif said he would not like to offer any comment on what Mr Hussain had said because he had no credibility.

He said a man, who had agreed to become prime minister for a couple of months only to please his boss, could not be taken seriously.

MMA leader Liaquat Baloch said before taking other steps for free and fair polls, Gen Musharraf should step down and set up a government of national consensus.