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No deal may lead to uprising, Bhutto warns Musharraf

September 07, 2007 15:55 IST

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has warned Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that failure to reach an agreement with her could lead to a people's uprising in the country.

"It is up to the government to decide whether it wants a peaceful transition to democracy through free and fair elections or face people's power and a Ukrainian-style Orange Revolution in Pakistan," Bhutto said in Dubai on Friday.

Bhutto was referring to protests against the government rigging elections in Ukraine in 2005. The popular protest had come to an end after opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko came to power.

Her power-sharing effort was designed to achieve a "peaceful transition" to democracy and a stronger balance between the president and the Parliament, said Bhutto.

"This is such a roller coaster that one cannot be sure about the final outcome," she said. However, she refused to blame Musharraf for the delay in finalisation of the much-hyped deal. "He is sincere, but there are some vested interests who do not want to see a peaceful transition from military rule to democracy," said Bhutto.

The 56-year-old former prime minister is trying to return from self-exile through negotiations with Musharraf and both the leaders are under pressure to reach a deal ahead of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's return to Pakistan.

"Pakistan's unity is at stake because of terrorism and religious extremists. So, need for unity among the moderate and liberal forces is much greater today," said Bhutto.

She added that some significant progress has been made in negotiations with Musharraf but acknowledged that some issues remained unresolved.

Bhutto claimed there was a strong faction in the government resisting any agreement. The negotiations have reportedly been stalled since last week, after top leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the ruling party, raised objections.

Bhutto has also faced dissent in her own party's ranks over the deal. But she emphasised that the dialogue with Musharraf is necessary as Pakistan's security was threatened by terrorism and religious extremism.

Stressing that there is unrest in the country and tribal areas are dominated by pro-Taliban and pro-al Qaida elements, she said even Pakistani Army officers are being kidnapped and Pakistan's unity is at stake."

"In this situation, people will prefer a peaceful transition to democracy," Bhutto added.

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