Former PM Benazir returns to Pak on Oct 18

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Islamabad, Sep 14: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will return to Pakistan on October 18, after living in self exile for more than eight years, a senior aide said today.

Ms Bhutto faces a slew of corruption charges and possibly arrest, but she has been in talks with President Pervez Musharraf about the likelihood of sharing power after a general election due around the end of the year.

''Benazir Bhutto will be landing in Karachi on October 18,'' Makhdoom Amin Faheem, vice chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, told a news conference.

Ms Bhutto made the announcement during a telephonic address in Lahore, while Makhdoom Amin Fahim announced the date simultaneously here as jubilant party workers raised slogans of ''Long Live Benazir Bhutto, Benazir is our Prime Minister.'' Ms Bhutto, who has served two terms as Prime Minister (December 2, 1988 to August 6, 1990 and July 18, 1993 to November 5, 1996), had asserted her deal with Gen Musharraf was neither a lifeline to a dictator nor to ensure withdrawal of pending corruption case against her, but her primary goal was restoration of democracy in her country.

''It is democracy we are fighting for. We are not supporting him. We are supporting a transition to democracy. We are supporting the holding of free elections,'' she said, in an interview on the 'Devil's Advocate' programme on CNN-IBN on Tuesday.

Ms Bhutto said despite the recent setbacks, she was still hopeful of reaching an accord with Gen Musharraf, but added she was determined to return to her country whether an agreement was reached or not.

''My party will announce the date on September 14 from the soil of Pakistan,'' she had said.

Mr Bhutto's announcement came just a few days after her successor and two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was unceremoniously deported in a matter of hours after his attempt to return after seven years of exile.

UNI

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