Benazir Bhutto says emergency rule not solution to extremism

Karachi, Nov.4 : Former premier Benazir Bhutto said Sunday that the declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan would only encourage extremists and give them "a new lease of life."

"This is not emergency, this is martial law and the people of Pakistan will protest against it," she told a news conference at Bilawal House, her home in Karachi.

"I have come back to encourage my people and to consult party colleagues on future course of action. Free and fair elections should be held on time, but this cannot be expected in a dictatorship," various local dailies quoted her, as saying.

"We wanted a political solution and to bring the country from dictatorship to democracy but, there has not been any response from the other side," Bhutto told reporters.

"The purpose of dialogue with Musharraf was to bring the country back to a democratic path," she added.

Speaking early Sunday on a US TV channel, Bhutto said she agreed with Musharraf about the extent of the threat from extremists.

"There is a real threat of a takeover by radical Islamist elements who have grown in strength and stature in the last five years. So there is a collapse of internal security and unless we can restore the authority of government I am afraid things will get worse," she said.

"I agree totally with General Musharraf that Pakistan is on the verge of destabilisation. I agree with the diagnosis, but I don't agree the cure. General Musharraf has given supporters and sympathisers in the regime of the militants a new lease of life. He has extended their tenure," she added.

Bhutto said there were no meetings planned with Musharraf "but if he does want to meet me I will certainly meet him and tell him it is very important to restore the Constitution, restore the rule of law, release political prisoners and to reverse the steps that have been taken."

The 54-year-old opposition leader called for the international community to pressure Musharraf into reversing his decision, saying she believed he wanted to delay January's elections. (ANI)