Bhutto to be accorded historic welcome: PPP

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Islamabad, Oct 16 (UNI) Thousands of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) activists will accord a historic welcome to their leader Benazir Bhutto when she arrives in the port city of Karachi after an eight years self-imposed exile.

The government, which advised Bhutto to postpone her return plans, citing security threats, has made foolproof security arrangements on her arrival, a senior official told UNI.

Two bullet proof vehicles and a helicopter will be made available to Bhutto, who had been given amensty in several graft cases under a presidential decree, called the National Reconciliation Ordinance, promulgated after months of both over and covert negotiations between the former Prime Minister and military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, who overwhelmingly won re-election despite boycott by the entire opposition, had also asked Bhutto not to return home till a decision on twin petitions challenging his candidature and re-election.

But top PPP leaders said there would be no change in her programme and she would return as per schedule.

''She will return home tomorrow come what may,'' a senior party leader, Senator Babar Awan told UNI.

He said the party is ready to face any situation that might arise after Bhutto's return, adding that the government was trying to mount pressure on their leader and the party as a whole.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML), which has no roots among the masses, was scared of PPP's popularity, he added.

Meanwhile, another former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been sent back into exile hours after he arrived in Islamabad last month following a decision in his favour by the Supreme Court, plans to return to the country next month.

''He (Sharif) will arrive in Pakistan anytime between September 15-30,'' spokesman for Sharif's faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, Siddique-ul-Farooque told UNI.

Sharif, who was ousted from power by Musharraf in October 1999 and put behind the bars under charges of corruption, had gone into exile and settled in Saudi Arabia for ten years in December 2000.

However, the apex court had allowed him to return and remain in the country as a Pakistani citizen, through a ruling in August.

His party has already filed a contempt petition in the court, which it will hear tomorrow.

UNI

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