LONDON: President General Pervez Musharraf has agreed to drop corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto to allow her to return to Islamabad as part of a power-sharing deal. This was announced by the former prime minister and chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party in a press interview. Immunity to all holders of public office prior to 1999 is part of the prospective deal between the government and the PPP.
“The issue of immunity has been overcome – all parliamentarians between 1988 and 1999 against whom charges have not been proven will be immune from further prosecution,” Ms Bhutto said. The deal would make up part of a “constitutional package” requiring a two-thirds majority in the national assembly. It would include a provision allowing the general to rule for another five-year term.
However he would have to surrender his military role and the uniform that helped bring him to power when he deposed Nawaz Sharif in 1999. Officials in Islamabad said that the legislation was being drawn up, while presidential election was expected between Sept 15 and Oct 15. The deal has been backed by America and Britain in the belief that Gen Musharraf should broaden his democratic appeal by forming a government with Ms Bhutto’s party, considered both secular and liberal. Ms Bhutto faces opposition to the deal by members of her own party who say that the PPP has been tarnished by compromising with a military ruler. However, she has argued that the deal will be part of a transition to democracy. The deal risks provoking public anger over Ms Bhutto and other politicians not having to answer to serious corruption allegations.-SANA