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And I'm Melissa Block.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is in Washington today, talking about the upcoming elections in her country. Bhutto leads the opposition Pakistan People's Party. She plans to return to her home in mid-October, ending eight years of self-imposed exile. She's been negotiating with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf about a power-sharing deal.
As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, today, Bhutto indicated that those talks have not gone well.
JACKIE NORTHAM: Benazir Bhutto's address, organized by the Middle East Institute, was at turns a political campaign speech - an admonishment of the Bush administration's support for President Musharraf and a subtle warning to the Pakistani president that her patience and time to forge a power-sharing deal are running out. She referred to Musharraf as a dictator and his government as a military regime that has allowed terrorists safe havens to thrive along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan over the past few years.
Ms. BENAZIR BHUTTO (Former Prime Minister, Pakistan): When I look back to the series of events following 9/11, it appears to me that military dictatorship has fueled extremism.
NORTHAM: Bhutto chided the Bush administration for backing Musharraf, calling it a strategic miscalculation. Bhutto disputed that Musharraf was a vital asset in fighting extremism.
Ms. BHUTTO: General Musharraf has tried convincing the world that he is the only one standing in the way of a extremist takeover of nuclear-armed Pakistan. In fact, military rule is the cause of the anarchic situation in Pakistan. Extremism thrives under dictatorship.
NORTHAM: The Bush administration is pushing for a deal between Bhutto and Musharraf that could return her to power. Bhutto was ousted from office twice and faces a number of court cases in connection with corruption and money laundering.
One of the conditions she's attached to any power-sharing deal is to have those cases in Pakistan against her dropped. Bhutto also wants Musharraf to give up his position as army chief of staff. He said he will do so only if he is reelected as president.
For his part, Musharraf wants Bhutto's party, the PPP, not to resign from parliament as many other opposition parties say they will do if Musharraf runs. The negotiations between the two sides have gone on for months. Bhutto says they've now hit a wall.
Ms. BHUTTO: The dialogue that we have held over so many months has stalled because extremist sympathizers and his party refused to accept a democratic process.
NORTHAM: Bhutto issued a not-so-veiled warning that her party will meet in London on October 3rd, three days before Pakistan's presidential elections, to make a decision about a power-sharing deal. Either way, she says, she still plans to return home to Pakistan October 18th.
Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.
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