Nirupama Subramanian

KARACHI: Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, revealed on Friday said she had written to President Pervez Musharraf two days before her return to the country naming three individuals who she suspected of plotting to kill her.

“I wrote to him saying that if something should happen to me, I will blame those who make people disappear. I have written to him telling him who I suspect. I have named three people. Whether the apparent organisation is A, B, C or D, I know in my heart who my enemies, who the forces of militancy are,” Ms. Bhutto said.

“I am accusing certain individuals, not the government, who abuse their positions and their powers,” she said at a press conference.

She revealed that she had been told by a journalist that a senior official had informed him that there would be an attack on her on the day she returned.

Ms. Bhutto, who looked remarkably composed despite her close brush with death, said the government had also received intelligence reports from a “brother country” of the deployment of four Al-Qaeda suicide squads to kill her.

Many policemen killed

A number of policemen were killed in the attack. The government said this proved that there was no let-up in the protection of Ms. Bhutto, but the crowd was too overwhelming to prevent the attack.

But Ms. Bhutto demanded an enquiry into why the street lights were switched off on the route of the procession, making it impossible for her security to spot suspicious-looking people, although she tempered it by saying she was not blaming the government “at this stage” for the attacks on her.

The PPP leader said Gen. Musharraf was among those who called her to ask about her well-being, and they discussed the importance of rooting out the forces of extremism and militancy from Pakistan.

Ms. Bhutto mentioned that BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh were among the numerous well-wishers who spoke to her on Friday.

With speculation that the government might postpone the election in view of the security threats to political leaders, Ms. Bhutto said it was all the more important that elections must be held.

“If they are not, the situation will worsen. We have to do all we can to empower the people. We need political solutions to political problems.”

Ms. Bhutto said the attack was aimed at all political parties.

“The message from the attack is that you cannot go out, you cannot campaign, you cannot mobilise, don’t exercise your fundamental freedom of political expression,” she said, adding that if the intention had been to intimidate her or her party, it had just the opposite effect.

“It just makes me more determined about democracy,” she said.

With questions being raised about Ms. Bhutto’s wisdom on insisting on being part of the process despite a government request that she take a helicopter out of the airport, PPP leaders said a mass political leader like Ms. Bhutto could not curtail her activities, but it was the state’s job to provide adequate security to political leaders.

Describing the security measures as inadequate, Sherry Rehman, the party’s central information secretary said the attack held serious implications for the democratic political process.

Privately, senior PPP leaders acknowledged that it could not be “business as usual” for Ms. Bhutto or the party, and that with an election campaign ahead, there would have to be significant changes in her style of dealing with the people.

Musharraf’s directive

PTI reports from Islamabad:

Gen. Musharraf on Friday directed officials to frame an anti-terror law to tackle rising militancy and extremism and offered to provide an elite commando squad to protect Ms. Bhutto, in the wake of the attack on her motorcade.

Gen. Musharraf, who chaired a high-level meeting in Rawalpindi to review the law and order situation, directed the Defence and Interior Ministries to draw up the law that would allow security agencies to detain suspects without charges till the completion of probes into any terrorist attacks, Dawn News channel reported.

Mr. Musharrafvdirected intelligence and security agencies to strengthen internal coordination to tackle terrorism and extremism.

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