Bhutto Again Under House Arrest Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister and opposition leader, calls on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to resign after she was placed under house arrest for a second time. She had threatened to lead a motorcade from Lahore to the capital Islamabad to protest emergency rule.
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Bhutto Again Under House Arrest

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Bhutto Again Under House Arrest

Bhutto Again Under House Arrest

Bhutto Again Under House Arrest

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Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister and opposition leader, calls on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to resign after she was placed under house arrest for a second time. She had threatened to lead a motorcade from Lahore to the capital Islamabad to protest emergency rule.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer, in for Renee Montagne.

Today, Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto call on the country's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, to leave office - the first time Bhutto has made such a demand since returning to Pakistan. Bhutto is under house arrest in the city of Lahore after threatening to lead a demonstration to the capital, Islamabad, to protest emergency rule.

NPR's Philip Reeves reports from Lahore.

(Soundbite of protestors chanting in foreign language)

PHILIP REEVES: The city is different, the scene is the same. On Friday, Bhutto was put under house arrest in Islamabad. Today, it's Lahore. The road leading to the house where she is staying is blockaded by trucks. Hundreds of riot police with batons and shields block the way. Police bundle a handful of women. Bhutto's supporters who've somehow managed to get here into a prison van.

(Soundbite of protestors)

REEVES: It's a like bizarre piece of street theater, enacted by people who've come with the intention of getting arrested and police who are happy to grab them in full view of the world's TV cameras. This time, Bhutto had threatened to lead a mass three-day motorcade from Lahore to the capital Islamabad. She knew such demonstrations were banned under emergency law and that she'd probably be confined again.

This is Bhutto's carefully choreographed way of pressuring General Musharraf and getting the world to take notice. Yet today, there's a difference. Today, Bhutto seems to have significantly shifted her ground and publicly hardened her position. Until now, she's focused on calling for an end to emergency rule, free elections, and for Musharraf to quit as army chief. She wasn't in outright opposition to Musharraf becoming a civilian president, yet this morning, speaking to Britain's Sky TV, she said wanted Musharraf to stand down.

Ms. BENAZIR BHUTTO (Former Prime Minister, Pakistan): It's time for General Musharraf to leave, simply leave. He's (unintelligible) and the situation of the country is most grave. It's a nuclear-armed country.

REEVES: Bhutto said she had tried to reach accord with the general about what she called a roadmap for democracy, but he had broken the commitments he made to her.

Her new position raises many questions: Is Bhutto, who leads the largest party, now willing to join Pakistan's other opposition parties in a unified stance against Musharraf? Is she now out of step with the U.S., which supports the general, but wants him to get out of uniform and to end the emergency rule?

Yusuf Raza Gillani is one of Bhutto's senior party officials. He's at the scene in Lahore today.

Do you now see Madame Bhutto as being in outright opposition to General Musharraf?

Mr. YUSUF RAZA GILLANI (Vice Chairman, Pakistan People's Party): Certainly, yes. Certainly, there's no ambiguity about it.

REEVES: Does that mean then that negotiations in the future are also impossible? It's off? It'off…

Mr. GILLANI: No, it's off. It's off because after emergency and after the what they have done to media and the judiciary, there is no need for a (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of protestors)

REEVES: Shortly afterwards, another group of party supporters is shoved into a police van.

Mr. RATTIM HASSAN(ph): We've come here to show solidarity to the prime minister, to the coming prime minister of Pakistan, Ms. Benazir Bhutto. She's destined to be the prime minister. My name is Rattim Hassan.

REEVES: Java Bahktar(ph) is watching these scenes from the sidelines and in disgust. He lives nearby.

Mr. JAVA BAHKTAR: I am a Pakistani. I love my country. I want pay - justice and freedom of choice, and freedom of speech, which the Western government always, always preach. So when it comes to Pakistan, they do not practice it. I'm sorry.

REEVES: Bahktar agrees with Bhutto. He thinks it's time for Musharraf to go. And it's also time, he says, for the U.S. to stop supporting the general.

Mr. BAHKTAR: They should not back Mr. Musharraf. He has lost all the credibility. He has got no moral or ethical role in Pakistan.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, Lahore.

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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.