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Bhutto flies to Lahore for anti-emergency march

Islamabad, Nov 11 (DPA) Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto flew to the central city of Lahore Sunday ahead of a planned march on the capital Islamabad to protest the state of emergency imposed eight days ago by President Pervez Musharraf.

Security was tightened at city airports to prevent further attacks on the former prime minister. Around 140 people died in a suicide bombing on her vehicle when she returned to Pakistan last month after eight years of self-exile.

Bhutto was unharmed in the blast, which she blamed on forces linked to the government.

The planned march, billed by Bhutto as a “long march for democracy,” threatens to escalate her apparent confrontation with the authorities, as she remains defiant at public appearances.

“When the masses combine, the sound of their steps will suppress the sound of military boots,” she said Saturday at a journalists’ demonstration against a partial news blackout.

But some observers say her hostile stance towards Musharraf is a carefully orchestrated show designed to preserve her opposition credentials even while she implements a power-sharing deal with the US-backed military leader.

Musharraf, in turn, would derive support from her Pakistan Peoples Party and be able to secure confirmation of his Oct 6 re-election from a compliant Supreme Court.

The country’s top judges were sacked and replaced when the president announced the emergency on November 3 in what critics say was a move to prevent the judiciary from annulling his re-election.