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Ex-PM Bhutto names return date

  • Story Highlights
  • Pakistani ex-PM Bhutto will return to Pakistan on Oct. 18, her party says
  • Government: Bhutto can return from exile but will face corruption cases
  • Former PM Sharif was expelled hours after he flew into Pakistan on Monday
  • Sharif's party warns Bhutto against reaching terms with Musharraf
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(CNN) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who has been living in exile since 1999, says she plans to return to her country on October 18.

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A supporter of Pakistan's self-exiled leader Benazir Bhutto puts up posters to welcome her in Karachi.

But she added she doesn't know whether the government will press charges against her to prevent her from having a role in this year's national elections.

Bhutto was accused of corruption while in office, but stressed Friday to CNN International that she was not sentenced for any crime and did not go into exile under any agreement, unlike former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Video Watch Bhutto talk about the challenges ahead »

Sharif was seized by government officials Monday when he landed in Pakistan from Saudi Arabia. Faced with detention in Pakistan, he opted to return to Saudi Arabia, where he has an agreement with that country's officials.

The move by Pakistan's embattled president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to block Sharif's return could bolster the opposition leader's standing ahead of elections later this year.

Sharif -- who leads the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League -- hoped to return to Pakistan after seven years in exile in Saudi Arabia that followed his ouster by Musharraf in a 1999 bloodless coup.

Bhutto, who represents the Pakistan People's Party, held talks early this month with Musharraf about a possible power-sharing deal ahead of late-year elections. She said the two talked September 4 and were to meet again September 6, but she was not contacted.

"The ball is in his court," said Bhutto, who has been living in London.

Musharraf's popularity plunged after placing Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry under brief house arrest in March, a move that sparked violent demonstrations. Musharraf accused the judge of misusing his powers. Chaudhry was reinstated.

As part of the negotiations with Bhutto, Musharraf agreed to abandon his bid to remain Pakistan's army chief, but has yet to make a formal announcement.

Musharraf was elected president in a 2002 vote that was criticized as unfair. His five-year presidential term expires in November.

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Bhutto has said her party is fighting for three things for her country: a moderate future, a democratic future and a future free from terrorism.

"I am appealing to the people of Pakistan ... for whom I have been raising my voice for democracy to come and receive me at the Karachi airport," she said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Benazir BhuttoNawaz SharifPervez MusharrafPakistan

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