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Wednesday, December 30, 1998 Published at 14:27 GMT


World: South Asia

Bhutto travel ban lifted

Benazir Bhutto: two days after being turned back, she left for Dubai

A court in Pakistan has overruled a government decision preventing the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, from travelling abroad.

On Monday, Ms Bhutto was stopped at Karachi airport as she was departing on a private trip to Dubai, to celebrate the New Year with her three children.

She was told by immigration officers that she could not leave the country because of the corruption charges she faces, even though last week the provincial Sindh High Court returned her passport together with a written court order allowing her to travel.


[ image: Karachi airport is the latest battle line between Sharif and Bhutto]
Karachi airport is the latest battle line between Sharif and Bhutto
Following the incident, Ms Bhutto filed a petition before the High Court in Lahore challenging the government's decision of putting her name on the exit control list of people barred from leaving Pakistan. She also authorised the court to investigate the charges in her absence.

With the court ruling in place, Ms Bhutto was allowed to board her flight on Wednesday.

"She has left for Dubai after we were informed of the Lahore court decision," a spokesman for Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said.

"It is a victory of justice," Ms Bhutto told reporters at the airport. She will remain in Dubai for several weeks, her party spokesman said.

Ms Bhutto said earier that she had been turned back at the airport because of her speech in parliament last Saturday, in which she assailed Mr Sharif for corruption.

Former President Farooq Leghari sacked Ms Bhutto in November 1996 under allegations of corruption and misrule, but she is denying the charges, and accuses Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of massive corruption, loan defaults and illegal transfer of money to foreign bank accounts.





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