Bhutto to end exile and return to Pakistan

Other News Materials 15 September 2007 12:04 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will return home on October 18 after more than eight years in exile, a senior aide said on Friday, but the government said she had to face corruption charges.

Bhutto faces a slew of such charges and possibly arrest. But she has been in talks with President Pervez Musharraf about the chance of sharing power after a general election due around the end of the year.

"Benazir Bhutto will be landing in Karachi on October 18," Makhdoom Amin Faheem, vice chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, led by Bhutto, told a news conference.

Asked about the possibility of her arrest, Faheem said: "We are ready to face any situation. We can handle any eventuality."

The developments will be closely watched in Washington and other Western capitals. Pakistan under Musharraf has been an important ally in U.S.-led anti-terrorism efforts.

Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani said Bhutto could return home, but told Reuters: "The law will take its course. She has to face corruption cases pending against her in the courts."

Earlier this week, authorities bundled off another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to Saudi Arabia hours after he landed at Islamabad airport following a seven-year exile.

But Sharif is the man Musharraf ousted eight years ago, whereas Bhutto is a potential ally.