Bhutto Welcomed in Karachi, Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister, makes an emotional return after eight years in exile. She hopes to bring change to Pakistan in a power-sharing agreement with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf after elections in January.
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Bhutto Welcomed in Karachi, Pakistan

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Bhutto Welcomed in Karachi, Pakistan


Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, made an emotional return to her home country today, ending eight years of self-imposed exile.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: It's an extremely moving and emotional moment for me. I was looking forward it, towards it, for so long. And when I actually landed here, I was overcome with my emotions. I could not believe that this day - that I have counted the hours, the minutes, the months and the years to have finally arrived.

AMOS: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was on the plane that brought Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan. And we caught up with Soraya as she was traveling from the airport to a rally in the center of the city.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: I am sitting on a flatbed truck in a sea of humanity - thousands of people, of supporters cheering and holding on flags and posters. And she is basically a couple of buses behind us on top of a truss structure that they've converted with a platform. They have the pictures very high up. She's right at the front, waving to everyone. In fact, she's not cheerful anymore like she was when she got off the plane.

AMOS: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, she has talked to reporters. What did she say about her political future? What is she talking about?

SARHADDI NELSON: Well, on the plane, she tried to make the rounds of the plane but, of course, as a result, the reporters and also supporters, so the aisles were blocked and she only made it a little way down. But she did get to us, and we asked her about how was returning this time, you know, what was different about this time. And she says she's older. She's wiser and more experienced, but that she is determined to change what has not changed, which is a country run by dictatorship and lots of democracy. She said she was less concerned about risk. She wanted to stay optimistic. There is some concern about her safety because there has been threats against her, and even President Musharraf is unhappy about her coming. But, in general, she said she's here to bring change, and she (unintelligible).

AMOS: Indeed, there have been suicide threats. As you say, she is talking about bringing democracy, and yet, she - before she even arrived, she actually has made a deal with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf. How does she explain that?

SARHADDI NELSON: I asked her about what her plans were with regards to President Musharraf, and she refused to answer. She said she was seeing him, if that is the case, down the road. The feeling was that this deal had to be made in order for her to return, but with her being here, she'll be able to bring more pressure to bear. Her - certainly, her supporters and her spokespeople say that she did win concessions, that the president will be taking off his military uniform at some point. And so they feel good about it.

AMOS: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, reporting from Karachi. She's following former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on the first day of her return to Pakistan after eight years in exile.

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