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Benazir Bhutto speaks about her house arrest.

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Bhutto: Pakistan Power Sharing Now Not Likely

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Bhutto: Pakistan Power Sharing Now Not Likely

Benazir Bhutto speaks about her house arrest.

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Morning Edition placed a phone call to the house in Pakistan where former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is under house arrest. The compound is surrounded by police as part of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's crackdown on the opposition.

Steve Inskeep: What is your freedom of movement like, if any?

Benazir Bhutto: I have freedom of movement within the house. I don't have freedom of movement outside the house. We've got a heavy police force inside the house, and we've got 4,000 policemen around the four walls of my house.

They're actually inside the house? You go down the hall and there's a police officer there?

Inside the gates of the house — not inside the house, but at front of our front door.

You've told reporters today that you will not reach any accommodation with President Musharraf, and that you think he should leave office — leave both of his offices, president and chief of staff of the army. When did you last communicate with Musharraf?

It was a week ago. And after that a week has past — a week of considerable internal and international pressure for him to move. And I agree that he took the right steps in announcing a date for elections. But I think we should focus on what he didn't do. He didn't announce a date for lifting emergency or retiring as chief of army staff on time. So I don't want my hopes raised, and through me, my party and people, only to have them dashed again. And so we came to this realization that while we worked with him for democracy he didn't really follow the road map.

Did you continue talking with him even after he imposed the state of emergency in Pakistan?

We had one conversation after he imposed the state of emergency buy not since then.

So is any hope of a power sharing arrangement, such as some people had been discussing, dead?

Not after that last crackdown. The people around Gen. Musharraf won't let him do it even if he wanted to do it. In the newspaper, for instance, today the ruling party has called for my arrest. But I think one has to speak up. And the truth is that today Pakistan is at the hands of disintegration because of the terrorist advance; and it's because we're not clear in defining that it is these extremists, these militants, who are threatening to disintegrate our country by expanding the influence from the tribal areas into the settled areas.

Bhutto Calls on Musharraf to Resign

Benazir Bhutto speaks about her house arrest.

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Protesters hold a poster of Benazir Bhutto in front of a police barricade blocking the home where the former prime minister is staying in Lahore, Pakistan. John Moore/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption John Moore/Getty Images

Protesters hold a poster of Benazir Bhutto in front of a police barricade blocking the home where the former prime minister is staying in Lahore, Pakistan.

John Moore/Getty Images

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, who was placed under house arrest for a second time in recent days, called on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday to step down and end emergency rule in Pakistan.

Bhutto told NPR's Morning Edition that the Lahore home where she was being held had been surrounded by thousands of troops to prevent her from leaving and leading a planned cross-country caravan to protest military rule. Bhutto was also briefly placed under house arrest during the weekend.

"I think it's time for Gen. Musharraf to leave," the former prime minister told NPR by telephone. "Ever since he took power, he has failed to build a democratic base. He said he would restore true democracy, but all he has done was twice impose martial law."

She accuses Musharraf of imposing effective martial law when he declared emergency rule on Nov. 3 — suspending citizens' rights, press freedoms and rounding up thousands of his opponents.

Bhutto also ruled out any power-sharing deal with Musharraf. She said it is now likely that her Pakistan People's Party would boycott January parliamentary elections.

Bhutto also indicated that she wanted to build an alliance with other opposition leaders, including her once bitter rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to restore democracy. Sharif was ousted by Musharraf in the 1999 coup that brought the general to power. He attempted to return to Pakistan in September but was immediately deported.

Amid the crisis, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was headed to Pakistan and expected to reiterate Washington's calls for Musharraf to lift the state of emergency.

The Bush administration - which in the past has praised Musharraf for his cooperation in the war against terror - offered a measured response to Bhutto's remarks.

"We remain concerned ... (but) we are hopeful that moderate elements would join together," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. Pakistan should get back on a path to democracy and "the political parties in Pakistan should all be working together toward that goal," she said.

Authorities on Tuesday mounted a massive security operation to prevent Bhutto from leading a procession to the capital, Islamabad, to press for an end to the emergency rule that Musharraf says is needed to fight rising Islamic militancy.

Aftab Cheema, chief of operations of Lahore city police, said Bhutto would not be allowed to leave the house, which was declared a "sub-jail."

Officers detained scores of Bhutto supporters, including two lawmakers, who approached the barricades shouting slogans including "Go Musharraf, go!" and "Prime Minister Benazir!"

Other Bhutto supporters apparently went ahead with the procession without her.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, president of Bhutto's party for Punjab, said he was leading a column of 200 vehicles from Lahore.

Police tried to stop them at several points, waylaying some of the cars and arresting several leaders, but the convoy continued southward, Qureshi said by phone.

The protest caravan is expected to take about three days and Bhutto's party forecast that thousands of supporters would join en route.

Police initially said they ramped up security around Bhutto due to intelligence that a suicide bomber was planning to attack her in Lahore.

Bhutto was targeted by an Oct. 18 suicide attack on a homecoming procession in the southern city of Karachi as she returned from years in exile. She was unscathed, but the blast killed 145 others.

She was put under house arrest in Islamabad Friday to prevent her from addressing a rally in the nearby city of Rawalpindi, where authorities issued similar warnings of suicide attacks.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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