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Blasts may affect Indo-Pak ties: Bhutto

Shyam Bhatia in London | August 29, 2003 18:46 IST
Last Updated: August 29, 2003 21:38 IST

This week's car bombings in Mumbai threaten fragile Indo-Pak ties, even though it is far from clear who was responsible, former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto told rediff.com on Thursday night.

"Groups within India are unhappy and it could be a local group -- one is unsure of the direction," she said following a dinner for visiting Alliance for Democracy convenor Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan.

"If it is linked to Ayodhya, that will not affect the peace process, but if it is linked to Kashmiri groups, that is very serious. Targeting civilians in a non-disputed area is a new dimension."

Bhutto said her own Pakistan Peoples Party was committed to the peace process, but it was difficult to fathom what President Pervez Musharraf believed in.

"If he shares our values, why is he in confrontation with the PPP and other parties that support the peace process?" she asked.

"Let the real Musharraf come out. He still has to co-opt those who believe in peace.

"Military dictators cannot make peace with India, but it is good that communications have opened (with New Delhi)."

Asked about the 19 people that India wants Pakistan to extradite, she replied, "It is an issue that will come up as part of the peace process; it is a bargaining chip."

Asked if Pakistanis were ready to accept the Line of Control (LOC) as the border, she said, "It will depend on the Kashmiris. Some people think (LoC) is the answer. But for me it is what the All Party Hurriyat is thinking.

"We were fixated on the LoC for 50 years, but every time that was recognised as the border, there was a backlash."

Turning to Pakistan, Bhutto said she was concerned to hear reports that there was an "understanding" that had allowed Osama bin Laden to flee and that he remained within a 120-mile radius of Pakistan's northern territories.

"I would like to ask what talks there have been between Musharraf and the West on this issue," she said.

Earlier Khan accused Musharraf of subverting Pakistan's constitution. He said dictators had always brought ruin to Pakistan and Musharraf was no exception.

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