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Benazir Bhutto leaves Karachi for Islamabad
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14:49, November 23, 2007

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Pakistan's main opposition leader Benazir Bhutto left her party's southern stronghold of Karachi for the capital of Islamabad early Friday, leaving the choice of an election boycott open.

Bhutto embarked on a flight from the Jinah International Airport at 7:00 a.m. (0200 GMT), escorted by heavy security.

She made no comment on the ongoing political situation in Pakistan, which has seen bickering between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Q) and the opposition led Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

Bhutto is expected to turn up at a meeting of major opposition parties on whether they would boycott the upcoming general elections or not.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan from eight years of self-imposed exile on Oct. 18, with an explosion taking place shortly after as here supporters gathered in a procession in Karachi, killing at least 140.

Journalists and photographers had waited for about five hours at the Karachi airport when they got leads from different sources that Bhutto might be leaving for Lahore on Thursday afternoon.

Pakistani authorities relaxed emergency to some extent lately, releasing more than 5,000 out of the 6,000 detained since the imposition of emergency on Nov. 3 -- mainly lawyers and political workers.

Procedures of the national and provincial assembly elections scheduled on Jan. 8 were proceeding, with dozens of nomination papers issued.

Opposition parties had called on Bhutto to boycott the elections but she had been obviously hesitant, giving green light for party members to file nominations while leaving the boycott choice open.


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