Crowds surge to welcome Bhutto

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“My return heralds for the people of Pakistan the turn of the wheel from dictatorship to democracy,” Bhutto said at a news conference in Dubai, flanked by her husband and two daughters. Bhutto recently courted controversy in Pakistan by saying that she would cooperate with the American military in targeting Osama bin Laden, and authorities here warned that militants could launch suicide attacks and roadside bombings against her. Asked about such threats, Bhutto said Islam forbids suicide bombings and attacks on her. “Muslims know if they attack a woman they will burn in hell,” she said. The government of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, appealed to Bhutto to abandon plans for a snail-paced 10-mile grand procession into Karachi, saying it would leave her vulnerable. It said the main threat was from Taliban and al-Qaida. With Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party already mobilizing rallies and convoys of supporters expected to arrive from its strongholds across Sindh by late Wednesday, many observers believe more than 100,000 will turn out. The PPP is predicting there will be more than 1 million. Thousands of her supporters had already arrived from the city of Multan in neighboring Punjab province and from Pakistan’s part of divided Kashmir, said Waqar Mehdi, a party spokesman. A shipping container fortified with bulletproof glass is being readied to convey Bhutto through Karachi, and some 3,500 police and paramilitary troops and 5,000 party volunteers will guard the streets, officials say.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! KARACHI, Pakistan – Thousands of Benazir Bhutto supporters surged toward Karachi on Wednesday, the eve of the former premier’s return from exile, as she declared any Islamic militant assassin targeting her would “burn in hell.” Meanwhile, Pakistan’s top court heard challenges to the legality of Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s re-election as president. Police were readying bomb disposal squads and sealing roads ahead of Bhutto’s planned return today to this chaotic city of 15 million people, where she hopes 1 million people will greet the end of her eight-year exile. Negotiations with Musharraf that could see the archrivals team up in a U.S.-friendly alliance to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban have already produced an amnesty covering the corruption cases that made her leave Pakistan in 1999. Bhutto hopes to secure a third term as prime minister after January elections. last_img

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