Bhutto nominated for key parliamentary post

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The Independent Online
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - The Pakistani government yesterday named the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, as chief of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, in a move toward political reconciliation.

In a surprise move, her name was proposed by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Siddique Kanju, while Shahbaz Sharif, brother of the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, seconded the proposal, parliamentary sources said.

Following her appointment, Ms Bhutto told reporters: 'There is no doubt this is a good step, to have reconciliation between the government and the opposition. But there is still a long way to go.' However, when asked if she had accepted the 'legitimacy' of the parliament by accepting the chairmanship of one of its committees, she said: 'I still maintain the National Assembly is bogus and the rulers are a product of rigged elections.'

As chief of the house committee, Ms Bhutto will advise the government on matters relating to foreign affairs. This is the first time an opposition leader has been appointed head of an important committee. It had earlier been led by the foreign minister.