Bhutto widower open to Musharraf power share

Benazir Bhutto's husband and political successor has said the assassinated prime minister's party is prepared to share power with President Pervez Musharraf after next week's elections, but warned his supporters could take to the streets in protest if the ballot is rigged.

Asif Ali Zardari said Mr Musharraf's future depended on whether the unpopular former general was willing to work with parliament. "If the parliament can get the power, absolute power to the parliament, then we are willing to work with the circumstances and look for a better way out," he said. "We certainly want to give comfort to the world that we're not looking for revolutions, we're looking for evolutions."

A week before parliamentary elections, Mr Zardari has emerged as the Pakistan People's Party's chief campaigner, having assumed leadership of the country's largest party on the instructions of Ms Bhutto's will. Though there has been speculation he may seek to become prime minister in the event of a PPP victory, the new "co-chairperson" of the party denied such ambitions. He said he would work outside parliament, in a role similar to India's Sonia Gandhi, until his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, completed his studies.

"I can only carry the party and the sentiments of the people till the day of the election. If the election is robbed from the people, if the people are disenfranchised, then I'm sorry I won't be able to stop the people's revolt."

The PPP is widely tipped to perform well in next week's polls, benefiting from a wave of sympathy after Ms Bhutto's assassination in December. But most observers believe even if the party took the most seats, it would be forced to forge alliances in the expected event of a hung parliament.

"We intend to win the elections," said Mr Zardari at Bilawal House, the family home named after his son. "We want to form a government with our allies, in spite of the situation the country is in. We want to take it out of the mess that the present government has got it into."

Among the allies Mr Zardari cited is the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, the once-bitter rival who has been campaigning to dislodge Mr Musharraf. But a senior aide to Pakistan's President claimed the PPP was set to form a "rainbow coalition" with the pro-Musharraf PML-Q and other parties it historically regarded with distaste. "The People's Party is ready to work with Mr Musharraf and the military establishment," said Mushahid Hussain, secretary general of PML-Q. "It has been in the political wilderness for 12 years, eagerly vying for power."

Mr Zardari said: "He probably knows something I don't know. Because in our party we have decided that we will look at the question of working with whom when we get past the elections."

The widower is a source of considerable controversy, and was nicknamed "Mr 10 Per Cent" for the alleged kickbacks from government contracts. Some analysts believe this perception may drain some PPP support. But an opinion poll yesterday by the International Republican Institute suggested the PPP's support stood at 50 per cent.

About 75 per cent of respondents said Mr Musharraf should resign immediately. Opposition parties and human rights groups have alleged the government has been manipulating the electoral process for the benefit of PML-Q. Among the evidence cited is the absence of a neutral election commissioner, caretaker government and judiciary.

Mr Zardari also repeated his call for a UN investigation into his wife's death, dismissing the conclusions of Scotland Yard detectives who said that she did not die from gunshot wounds. "[They have] been assisted by wrong advice from the government of Pakistan ... How do we know that the X-ray that they showed to them was her X-ray and not somebody else's?"

He added: "Scotland Yard's report, at best, is based on the findings of the government of Pakistan."

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin