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Bhutto: Pakistan Power Sharing Now Not Likely

Morning Edition placed a phone call to the house in Pakistan where former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is under house arrest. The compound is surrounded by police as part of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's crackdown on the opposition.

Steve Inskeep: What is your freedom of movement like, if any?

Benazir Bhutto: I have freedom of movement within the house. I don't have freedom of movement outside the house. We've got a heavy police force inside the house, and we've got 4,000 policemen around the four walls of my house.

They're actually inside the house? You go down the hall and there's a police officer there?

Inside the gates of the house — not inside the house, but at front of our front door.

You've told reporters today that you will not reach any accommodation with President Musharraf, and that you think he should leave office — leave both of his offices, president and chief of staff of the army. When did you last communicate with Musharraf?

It was a week ago. And after that a week has past — a week of considerable internal and international pressure for him to move. And I agree that he took the right steps in announcing a date for elections. But I think we should focus on what he didn't do. He didn't announce a date for lifting emergency or retiring as chief of army staff on time. So I don't want my hopes raised, and through me, my party and people, only to have them dashed again. And so we came to this realization that while we worked with him for democracy he didn't really follow the road map.

Did you continue talking with him even after he imposed the state of emergency in Pakistan?

We had one conversation after he imposed the state of emergency buy not since then.

So is any hope of a power sharing arrangement, such as some people had been discussing, dead?

Not after that last crackdown. The people around Gen. Musharraf won't let him do it even if he wanted to do it. In the newspaper, for instance, today the ruling party has called for my arrest. But I think one has to speak up. And the truth is that today Pakistan is at the hands of disintegration because of the terrorist advance; and it's because we're not clear in defining that it is these extremists, these militants, who are threatening to disintegrate our country by expanding the influence from the tribal areas into the settled areas.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

United States & World Morning Edition