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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007, 10:23 GMT
Benazir Bhutto
On Sunday 04 November Andrew Marr interviewed Benazir Bhutto, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan

Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

ANDREW MARR: I understand we do have Benazir Bhutto on the phone now from Pakistan.

There's been a state of emergency, you recall there.

President Musharraf blaming Islamic militancy and interference by Pakistan's judges for forcing him to declare emergency rule.

But is this simply a way of maintaining his hold on power? Well Benazir Bhutto returned to Karachi last night in order, she said, to be with her people at this time of crisis. And her return to the front line of Pakistan politics two weeks ago, you remember, led to that bomb attempt on her life, killed over 140 of her supporters.

She joins me now, as I say, by phone from her home in Karachi. Benazir Bhutto welcome. I understand that your house is now surrounded by troops, is that right?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: No, there were reports earlier that the troops had come outside the house but they're not here any more. Since I reached the country there has been no move to detain me although frankly speaking I'm quite surprised because I thought I would be arrested as soon as I got off the plane.

ANDREW MARR: As you understand it, is the amnesty that you discussed with President Musharaff for you still in place?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Actually it was not an amnesty because amnesty's for people who are guilty. But General Musharraf and I had discussed a national reconciliation order and that order is now, we don't know the status of that order, because the entire constitution has been suspended.

General Musharraf says that in his capacity as Army chief he has suspended the constitution and in place of the constitution he has announced a new provisional constitutional order. We will need to see which of the laws he retains under this new constitutional order.

ANDREW MARR: How are you going to play this now? Are you going to call on your supporters to come out into the streets and protest, or what are you going to do?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: My first action is going to be to consult with other political parties. For certainly my party and I cannot accept martial law even if it's called an emergency. And so we're calling for the restoration of our constitution.

We believe it's important that General Musharraf keeps his commitment to the Supreme Court and the people of Pakistan, and steps aside as Army chief, that he establishes an independent election commission, releases political prisoners and allows for the holding of fair free and impartial elections.

It all depends on how General Musharraf reacts and responds. I believe there's a debate at the administration whether to hold elections on time, or to defer them.

ANDREW MARR: And yet, in the short term, he has all the cards in his hand. So how do you play it over the next few days?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well in the short term he does have the cards in his hand, but I believe that ultimately it's the sentiments of the people that count. And if the people protest the suspension of the constitution then this will have an impact on the armed forces, and it will also have an impact on the international community. The PPP and I welcome the comments made by Great Britain and indeed the European Union, in calling upon Pakistan to return back to the path of constitutionalism.

I hope that we can work together with the international community which has enormous leverage on General Musharraf, it gives enormous amount of aid and assistance to put democracy back on track and ensure that elections are held on time.

ANDREW MARR: You had a deal with President Musharraf. Do you think you were fooled?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well people say it was a deal but in fact I had an negotiation with General Musharraf for the holding of fair free and impartial elections. And along the way we were disappointed that the commitments that had been made were not being fulfilled.

So yes, I feel that maybe it was a decoy plan. But it's still too early to say, and it all depends on whether General Musharraf restores the constitution immediately and forms an independent election commission for the holding of fair free and impartial elections, or whether he tries to protect the ruling party known as the PMLQ. It's the ruling party which has publicly supported the rise of extremism and militancy in my country.

Three days ago a terrorist, a wanted terrorist, openly held a press conference in the tribal areas, I was so surprised that the police didn't arrest him, the administration didn't act. They all looked the other way. So this is posing a threat to the people of Pakistan and it's also posing a threat to NATO troops in nearby Afghanistan.

ANDREW MARR: After what has happened, presumably you could not share power with President Musharraf, you could not work in government with him, that would be one bridge too far?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: I have always maintained that I want democracy, and I want the people of Pakistan to choose their own leaders. Certainly General Musharraf and I have had a very rocky relationship, even during this process of negotiations.

My main concern is to see the restoration of democracy, to see that the constitution is restored, the judiciary is respected, the political prisoners are freed, and that fair, free and impartial elections are held under an independent election commission. It's for a freely elected parliament to choose who its leader should be.

ANDREW MARR: Benazir Bhutto, thank you very much indeed for joining us this morning.

INTERVIEW ENDS


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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