(AFP) – Sep 14, 2007
ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto was Friday to announce the date of her return from self-imposed exile amid a spiralling political crisis, her party said.
Bhutto has been in talks with embattled military ruler President Pervez Musharraf on a possible power-sharing deal ahead of crunch general and presidential elections in the coming months.
But progress has been slow due to Bhutto's demands that Musharraf quit as army chief and give up key powers -- as well as for an amnesty against the corruption charges that forced her abroad.
"We are announcing the date of the return for Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan at 5:00 pm (1200 GMT)," Pakistan People's Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar told AFP.
"Pakistan People's Party vice chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim will announce it at a news conference in Islamabad."
Pakistani authorities on Monday arrested another ex-premier, Nawaz Sharif, just hours after he returned from seven years in exile and deported him to Saudi Arabia.
Bhutto, the Islamic republic's first female premier who served from 1988-1990 and again from 1993-1996, has been living in London and Dubai since 1999 because of graft allegations against her in her homeland.
The announcement of her return will put further pressure on Musharraf to seal a pact with her, amid mounting opposition to his plans to be re-elected as president in uniform some time before mid-October.
General elections are due by early 2008.
Bhutto told AFP last week that she wanted to meet Musharraf face-to-face after making progress in talks on the possible pact. She said that her return home would come in "weeks, not months".
Another Pakistan People's Party official said the government had yet to respond to its suggestions for a "smooth transition to democracy".
"The talks have not reached any conclusion, there are still some issues undecided. The ball is in the government's court, the sooner it is done, the better," Wasif Syed told AFP.
Musharraf has been embroiled in crisis since a botched attempt to sack the country's chief justice in March. He also faces a rising tide of militant violence, with a suicide bombing killing 15 elite commandos on Thursday.
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