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2007 State of Emergency

benazir-bhutto-thinkingNovember 3, 2007 was the day when President Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency. His reasons were actions by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and religious extremism in the nation.

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, interrupting a visit to family in Dubai, greeted by supporters chanting slogans at the airport. After staying in her plane for several hours she was driven to her home in Lahore, accompanied by hundreds of supporters. While acknowledging that Pakistan faced a political crisis, she noted that Musharraf's declaration of emergency, unless lifted, would make it very difficult to have fair elections. She commented that "The extremists need a dictatorship, and dictatorship needs extremists."

On 8 November 2007, Bhutto was placed under house arrest just a few hours before she was due to address a rally against the state of emergency.

During a telephone interview with National Public Radio in the United States, Benazir said "I have freedom of movement within the house. I do not have freedom of movement outside the house. They've got a heavy police force inside the house, and we've got a very heavy police force - 4,000 policemen around the four walls of my house, 1,000 on each. They've even entered the neighbors' house. And I was just telling one of the policemen, I said 'should you be here after us? Should not you be looking for Osama bin Laden?' And he said, 'I'm sorry, ma'am, this is our job. We're just doing what we are told.'"

The following day, the Pakistani government announced that Bhutto's arrest warrant had been withdrawn and that she was free to travel and to appear at public rallies. However, leaders of other opposition political parties remained prohibited from speaking in public.



Copyright Business Recorder, 2011