Islamabad, Oct 23: A close friend of Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf is among the three persons who have been accused by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of plotting her assassination.
Benazir, who had a narrow escape last week in a suicide attack at her homecoming rally in Karachi, has sent three names to Musharraf of the people with powerful positions in the government, including a close friend of the General.
Responding to a query in an interview to NBC Today as to whether it was not risky to name a close friend of the President as being someone who"s plotting against her, Benazir said she did not know that the person was Musharraf's friend, adding that even if she knew, she would have named him.
“Well, at that time I did not know whether there would be an assassination attempt that I would survive. And, I wanted to leave on record the suspects. I asked myself that even if I knew that he was a friend of the general and I thought of him as a suspect, would I have not written? No, I would have written," the Daily Times quoted her, as saying in the interview.
Benazir said she came to know about assassination plots against her after a Muslim country friendly to Pakistan informed Islamabad and Musharraf about it. Later, the President shared it with her, she added.
General Musharraf had asked me to delay my return to Pakistan. And, he had very kindly shared with me information that he had received about four possible suicide squads being sent to kill me. But I felt that if I did not return then they would threaten me the next time and the next time. And that the objective was to stop the transition to democracy, not just my return on October 18. So, we took a lot of security precautions. And we were confident about the caution as much as a person can be," she said.
Benazir said she did not regret coming back and seeing what had happened, adding, “The people who came to know that there would be a risk. They put their lives on the line. And I put my life on the line. And we did it because we believe in a cause. We want to save Pakistan. And we think saving Pakistan comes by saving democracy."
On being asked whether she does not trust the government to conduct the investigation into the Karachi attack, as she had demanded the involvement of foreign experts in the probe, the PPP chief said, “I trust the government. But I think that the international community has greater expertise."
“I also feel that there are elements within our administration who were associated with the past military dictatorship which had founded the Afghan mujahideen, and because of the friends of … the friendship or the bonds that grew up at that time, they might not be able to do such a thorough job. Or because of a lack of expertise they might not be able to such a thorough job. So, I would like to see an independent, credible investigation assisted by the international community with expertise in anti-terrorism so that we can get to the bottom of the militants," she added.
When asked as to why she returned to Pakistan, Benazir said that militants wanted an Islamist takeover of the country, so “they have to be stopped."
“I have a choice - to keep silent and to allow the extremists to do what they are doing, or I have a choice to stand up and say, 'This is wrong, and I"m going to try and save my country." And I"ve taken the second choice," Benazir added.