Bhutto makes surprise trip to Dubai

Karachi, November 1:

Former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto left for Dubai today, officials said, in a surprise move after cancelling the trip overnight due to rumours of an impending state of emergency.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan from eight years in self-exile just two weeks ago, on October 18. Hours later, her homecoming parade in the southern city of Karachi was targeted by a suicide bombing that killed 139 people.

“I am going to Dubai to see my children and ailing mother,” Bhutto was quoted as telling members of her Pakistan People’s Party at Karachi airport by senior party official Agha Siraj Durrani.

“I will return to Pakistan on November 8,” ahead of a public meeting that she is due to address in the garrison city of Rawalpindi the following day, Durrani quoted her as saying.

Durrani told AFP that the two-time prime minister departed on Emirates Airlines Flight EK-607.

“She has just left,” a senior Karachi airport official said on condition of anonymity.

Bhutto’s move came less than a day after she abruptly cancelled a trip to the Gulf emirate,

citing speculation that President Pervez Musharraf could declare a state of emergency in troubled Pakistan.

Bhutto said yesterday she had decided to postpone her visit “due to rumours of the possible imposition of an emergency in view of the pending cases before the Supreme Court about General Musharraf’s elections.” The court is hearing appeals against Musharraf’s victory in presidential poll. It has ruled that the official result cannot be declared until it rules whether the vote was legal.

Bhutto also welcomed a move by chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to probe the blast that took place on her return.