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Bhutto: Pakistan is returning to a dictatorship

  • Story Highlights
  • Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf declares a state of emergency
  • Benazir Bhutto says she's "very disappointed" with the developments
  • Bhutto: Musharraf likely fears Supreme Court might dissolve his election victory
  • Bhutto hopes to gain a third term as prime minister
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(CNN) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto described a "wave of disappointment" Saturday and called President Pervez Musharraf a "military dictator" after he declared a state of emergency in Pakistan and suspended its constitution.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto waves to supporters as she arrives in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday.

"The country is going to dictatorship once again," Bhutto said, speaking outside her home in the port city of Karachi.

"It is an uncertain situation, and the Pakistani public and I are really very disappointed with this emergency announcement."

In a Saturday night address to the nation, Musharraf said he took the actions "for the good of Pakistan," stressing the country was threatened by rising tensions and spreading terrorism.

Bhutto said she agreed with his diagnosis, but not the cure.

"I believe it is dictatorship which has fueled extremism," she said by telephone from her home.

"Dictatorship feeds off extremism and extremism feeds off dictatorship. Dictatorship needs the extremist threat to justify itself in power."

"He chose to have a military solution and that is not good," Bhutto said of Musharraf. Video Watch Bhutto say his actions are a big setback »

Bhutto, who leads the Pakistan People's Party, hopes to gain a third term as prime minister after January's parliamentary elections, possibly under a power-sharing deal with Musharraf.

"I had hoped to work with Gen. Musharraf in taking our country toward a civilian rule," she said.

"At the moment I am at a loss to say how Gen. Musharraf and I would work together because he has declared martial law," she said. "It's very difficult to work with a military dictator."

Musharraf's actions Saturday were likely out of fear that Pakistan's Supreme Court might dissolve his victory in the October presidential election, Bhutto said.

For weeks, Pakistan has been coasting in a state of political limbo while the Supreme Court worked to tackle legal challenges filed by the opposition that call into question Musharraf's eligibility to hold office.

The Supreme Court declared the state of emergency illegal and claimed Musharraf had no power to suspend the constitution, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry said.

Shortly afterward, Chaudhry was expelled as chief justice.

In Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, troops entered the Supreme Court and surrounded the judges' homes, according to CNN's Syed Mohsin Naqvi.

"A decision to arrest the judges will weaken the supremacy of law in the country," Bhutto said.

She arrived in the country earlier Saturday, cutting short a visit to Dubai to see family. Video Watch crowds surround Bhutto upon her arrival »

"I heard that emergency was going to be declared," she said.

"So I ... rushed back to Pakistan to give support to the people. The people here have trusted me and they have loved me, and I feel it is my duty to repay that trust and that love by helping them save the country by bringing democracy."


Bhutto returned to Pakistan last month, despite death threats, after eight years of self-imposed exile.

On October 18, a bombing attack in Karachi intended for Bhutto's slowly moving motorcade killed 136 people. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Journalist Majid Siddiqui contributed to this report.

All About PakistanBenazir BhuttoPervez Musharraf

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