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Benazir may have to face cases: Qayyum

November 19, 2007

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LONDON, Nov 18: PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto could soon be facing the same corruption charges that have forced her into exile for more than eight years, according to a report published in The Sunday Times.

TST correspondent Christina Lamb quoting Attorney-General Malik Mohammad Qayyum said that a government amnesty lifting the charges – which enabled Ms Bhutto to return to the country last month – was legally invalid and was likely to be overturned.

“I don’t think it will survive the challenge,” Mr Qayyum told the TST. Quoting Ms Bhutto, the TST correspondent said she was unconcerned.

“I don’t care about the cases,” the PPP leader said. “I care about the future of my country. If the court wants to take it up again, all right, let them take it up.”

According to the newspaper, Vice Chief of Army Staff Gen Kayani took part in the decision to impose the emergency at a meeting that was called after the government received information that the bench would rule Gen Musharraf’s election invalid.

Ms Bhutto has convened a meeting of opposition leaders at her Karachi home on Wednesday to discuss boycotting the elections set for January and launching a nationwide street movement for the restoration of democracy, the paper added. However, in the opinion of Ms Lamb, any such strategy was hampered by years of mistrust between the parties, the arrest of leaders such as Imran Khan and the heavy-handed crackdown by police on any attempts at protest.

Ms Bhutto is also quoted to have said that she had told US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte in a phone call on Friday night that negotiations with Gen Musharraf were “no longer on the table”. “I said to him that as far as we were concerned we had a roadmap towards democracy and suddenly found ourselves on a road leading back to dictatorship,” she added.