August 1999 News

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Benazir may settle in India soon, says Pakistan minister

30 August 1999
The Asian Age

LAHORE: Pakistan's interior minister Shujaat Hussain has come out with the startling allegation that Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is planning to get Indian nationality and settle in that country.

"Even her father had Indian nationality," NNI news agency quote him as telling journalists, Mr. Hussain's charge came even as Ms Bhutto said that the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was on its "last legs" and its efforts to muzzle the Opposition would not succeed in keeping itself in power.

Mr. Hussain said the government had no objection to Ms Bhutto's alleged attempt to seek asylum in India. "We will not even press for her return," he said.

However, Pakistan would definitely ask for her extradition if she decided to seek asylum in any other country, he added. He alleged that Ms Bhutto's intention to seek Indian nationality was clear by the anti-Pakistan statements she had been issuing every other day.

By giving an interview against the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Service Intelligence to an Indian television channel, Ms Bhutto had proved that she had no love for Pakistan, he added. Accusing the government of putting hurdles in the way of preparations for an Opposition rally in Lahore on Wednesday, the former Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan People's Party said the rulers should see the writing on the wall and voluntarily step down.

Ms Bhutto said the Opposition would not tolerate any bid by the government to block its rally and snatch away its democratic rights and claimed that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League had started "disintegrating." The day all Opposition parties joined hands and challenged the Prime Minister, the government would give in, she said. "It is advisable for Mr Nawaz to honour the people's will and voluntarily resign. But he has become a dictator who will have to be forced out," Ms Bhutto was quoted as saying by Sohail Ahmed Khan, PPP coordinator for southern Punjab province.

The PPP has also given a call for a hunger-strike on September 12 in Hyderabad in Sindh province to condemn the police action against its party workers on August 25. Mr Hussain calmed the proposed Opposition's protest rally would fail, as in the past. "Such rallies cannot harm the government," he asserted. He charged that the Opposition's agitation was aimed at creating unrest and disrupting law and order in the country. He said the provincial governments had been asked to take appropriate steps to deal with the rallies. At the same time, he said there was no bar on holding peaceful rallies.

Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami has warned the government of dire consequences if it made attempts to close Mujahideen camps. (India Abroad News Service)

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