A lot needs to be done: Benazir

Published December 16, 2007

QUETTA, Dec 15: Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto has welcomed the lifting of emergency and termed it a “step toward transition from dictatorship to democracy”.

“Though lifting of emergency is a positive step a lot still needs to be done for moving towards complete democracy,” she said.

Addressing a press conference after her arrival on a two-day visit here on Saturday, she said that after lifting of emergency the issues of democracy, misuse of nazims in the election, ghost polling stations and inability of the Election Commission to control pre-poll rigging should also be sorted out.

Ms Bhutto said that the PPP had reservations about the fair and free elections as she had received many complaints about pre-election rigging.

“Many candidates of my party are being threatened by the Military Intelligence and other secret agencies,” she said. “I hope President Musharraf will take notice of these complaints and would interfere in the matter.”She, however, said the people’s power and monitoring by international observers would not allow the government to rig the elections.

In reply to a question about the acceptance or rejection of Pervez Musharraf as president, she said only a new parliament can decide the matter.

About the military operation in Balochistan, the former prime minister said that after coming to power her government would stop the operation and release all political leaders and workers, including Sardar Akhtar Mengal and the grandson of the late Nawab Akbar Bugti.

Ms Bhutto did not agree with a questioner that then PPP government was responsible for the 1973 military operation in Balochistan, blaming “various powers of that time” for the action. “It is not true that only the PPP government was responsible for that operation.”

She said people of the province had the first right over its resources and she would honour this right. “We will give all due rights to the people of Balochistan,” she affirmed, adding that the provinces must get their rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Referring to suicide attacks, bomb blasts and other terrorist activities, she held the “military dictatorship” responsible for it. “These incidents are happening due to military rule in the country for a long time,” Ms Bhutto said.

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