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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Bhutto 'close to Musharraf deal'
Benazir Bhutto
Could Benazir Bhutto co-operate with a Musharraf government?
Former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto says she is close to reaching a deal to share power with President Musharraf.

The embattled military ruler is seeking support for presidential elections that could give him another five-year term.

But he is under pressure to reach a deal with the opposition after several Supreme Court rulings went against him.

Ms Bhutto told the BBC that most issues had been resolved, but an agreement had not been finalised. She wants a clear statement he will resign as army chief.

She also wants a pledge to remove legal obstacles currently preventing her from becoming prime minister for a third time, and the removal of corruption cases against her.

Uniform off

Ms Bhutto was speaking to the BBC's Urdu service after weeks of mounting speculation that a deal was being worked on.

President Pervez Musharraf

"We are still negotiating. There are so many things we have agreed upon," she said.

"But it's not been finalised so I can't go into details."

She said she hoped General Musharraf would make a decision to stand down as head of the army "according to the wishes of the Pakistani people".

"And the people of Pakistan want him to get rid of his uniform."

Earlier, Pakistan's railways minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told reporters the deal was "80% done".

He said the crucial issue over Gen Musharraf's dual role as president and army chief had been resolved, but did not elaborate.

Until now Gen Musharraf has said he will abide by the constitution when it comes to the dual role.

Some say this means he will take off the uniform before the end of the year, some say before presidential elections in autumn, reports the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad.

The crucial thing for Ms Bhutto is that he publicly announce his intentions because right now she is losing support by negotiating with the military ruler, our correspondent says.

Defections

Analysts say Ms Bhutto was alarmed by the Supreme Court's decision last week allowing the other exiled opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, to return to Pakistan, perhaps as early as next month.

Mr Sharif has gained much support for opposing army rule and vowing to force President Musharraf out of office.

It is not clear whether the military leader can accept Ms Bhutto's demands.

At the moment he has enough votes in parliament to win another five-year term.

But there are growing defections from the ruling party and the emboldened Supreme Court might yet rule that his re-election from existing assemblies is unconstitutional.


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