15th February 1997
NEW DELHI: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has admitted that her "hawkish policy on India" has been rejected by the people in the recent elections, and that they have "endorsed" Nawaz Sharif's stance to open negotiations with India.
In her first interview after her Pakistan People's Party's (PPP) defeat at the hustings, Bhutto said Sharif had "made no secret of his desire to improve relations with India".
In her interview to be broadcast in Ghoomta Aaina programme to be telecast tomorrow on Zee TV, Bhutto said: "We had a more hawkish policy on India, but he (Nawaz Sharif) is the one who has come with a three-fourths majority. So obviously people have endorsed his stand to open negotiations with India and they have rejected our stand that unless India moves on the Kashmir dispute, there should be no talks."
Bhutto said successive Prime Ministers in Pakistan had been "bullied" by the President, the Army and the intelligence agencies, rendering them totally helpless. While expressing her anger at massive "bungling" in the "unfair" elections, she said she was "happy that another person has become the Prime Minister, who has the chance to define the powers of the country's chief executive and to make Parliament the real political core or heart of the system".
Berating the "injustice" done to her party, Bhutto said since 1977 four Prime Ministers from Sindh have been dismissed and never restored. "There is one law for Premiers from Lahore ( Punjab) and another for those from Larkana (Sindh). If it is a Lahore Prime Minister, the President needs to be "satisfied" (before his dismissal), but mere newspaper clippings are sufficient for removing a Larkana Prime Minister."
But she reserved ridicule, contempt and vitriol for President Leghari. Without referring to him by his title as President, she declared: "Leghari has become redundant."
On February 1, she said she had phoned one of Leghari's friends asking him to tell the latter that while trying to oust her "you (Leghari) are also losing". Bhutto said she was "very happy that there is no hung Parliament", otherwise the President would have returned to his old tricks and given the Parliamentary system a bad name. "Thank God, it has not happened," she said with evident relief.