Bhutto’s Brother Arrested After Returning to Pakistan
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Police arrested Murtaza Bhutto, the brother of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, moments after his plane landed before dawn today, ending his 16 years in exile.
Ms. Bhutto, 40, and her 39-year-old brother are bitter political rivals. Their feud has split Pakistan’s most prominent family.
Bhutto allegedly plotted a 1981 plane hijacking to Afghanistan in an attempt to undermine the military regime that overthrew and executed their father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
A Pakistani major was killed in the hijacking. Bhutto faces charges that include hijacking, murder and terrorism.
Police placed Bhutto in a police vehicle on the tarmac moments after he arrived in this southern port at 2 a.m. on an Ethiopian Airlines flight. His mother, Nusrat Bhutto, greeted him briefly before he was taken to jail.
″Finally my son has arrived, I am happy,″ said Nusrat Bhutto, who was sharply critical of the way her daughter’s government handled the affair.
Bhutto’s arrest ended a day and night of drama at the airport, but Bhutto and his sister are sure to continue their political battle. The two don’t have any real ideological differences, but both see themselves as the political successor to their father.
On Wednesday, some 5,000 supporters loyal to Bhutto smashed windows as they tried to force their way inside the terminal. At least 37 people were injured when police fired tear gas canisters to drive off the mob, which regrouped repeatedly in the parking lot.
Bhutto was not on that flight. He tried to come later on a chartered Syrian Airlines plane that was refused permission to land because it did not have a proper license, said a government official, who requested anonymity. The plane returned to the United Arab Emirates, leaving Nusrat Bhutto outraged.
Asked who was responsible for turning back the plane, she snapped, ″You know who the prime minister is.″
Nusrat Bhutto said her daughter’s government was ″worse than the martial law period,″ a reference to the military dictatorship that ousted the elder Bhutto from the prime minister’s post in 1977. He was hanged in 1979.
Nusrat Bhutto is a member of the National Assembly, and along with her daughter, co-chairs the ruling Pakistan People’s Party.
In the days before last month’s national election, Nusrat Bhutto campaigned vigorously for her son and denounced candidates from her own party who challenged him.
Bhutto lost his bid for a seat in parliament, but won a post in the Sindh provincial assembly, largely on the strength of the family name. He is not expected to assume any office until his legal problems are resolved.
Bhutto fled into exile in 1977 shortly after his father was overthrown and was accused four years later of involvement in the airline hijacking.