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Pakistan Urges Bhutto to Delay Return


Pakistan is urging former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to delay her return from exile until the Supreme Court rules on a government amnesty on corruption charges against her.

Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim told reporters Saturday that it is in Bhutto's political interest to wait for the court to confirm the amnesty.

The amnesty, signed last week by President Pervez Musharraf, ended all corruption cases filed against Ms. Bhutto and other politicians dating from 1985 to 1999.

The ordinance is one of Ms. Bhutto's conditions for a possible power-sharing deal with the president, and allows her to return from exile next week without the threat of arrest.

In Friday's ruling, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said any benefit gained by the former public official is still subject to the court's decision on the challenges.

President Musharraf announced the ordinance just before last Saturday's presidential election by the parliament and provincial assemblies. In return, members of Ms. Bhutto's party did not resign from the assemblies, as other opposition members did to protest General Musharraf's re-election while still army chief.

The Supreme Court also is set to rule on whether the president's election victory while continuing on as army chief is constitutional. General Musharraf has promised to relinquish the military post if his re-election is confirmed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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