Alleged letter to Mikulski is invoked by Bhutto's opponents

October 21, 1990|By Bob Benjamin | Bob Benjamin,Sun Staff Correspondent

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A letter allegedly written by Benazir Bhutto to Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski was produced here yesterday by the former prime minister's political opponents as part of their claim that Mrs. Bhutto sought the cutoff of U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Copies of the Aug. 28 letter were made public by Pakistan's caretaker prime minister, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, who came to power after Mrs.Bhutto was dismissed from office Aug. 6 by the country's president.

Mr. Jatoi is one of the leaders of the coalition of parties opposing Mrs. Bhutto's re-election bid. In the final weeks before Wednesday's upcoming national elections, Mrs. Bhutto's popularity has increased, but her opponents have countered somewhat effectively with charges that she is a tool of foreign interests.

In the alleged letter to Senator Mikulski, Mrs. Bhutto calls her dismissal a coup, warns that the future of democracy in Pakistan is threatened and labels the special tribunals in which she is charged with corruption "kangaroo courts."

The alleged letter ends with Mrs. Bhutto's telling the Maryland Democrat, "You have been a great friend of Pakistan and a great friend of democracy. We are counting on the United States Congress to once again uphold those universal human and political rights that have been central to your country for the last 200 years.

"I again wish to thank you for all you have done and for all you will doto restore democracy in Pakistan."

In the citations that were made available, there were no direct references to U.S. foreign aid.

Senator Mikulski was not available for comment yesterday.

Kamal Azfar, a spokesman for Prime Minister Jatoi, said Senator Mikulski attached a copy of Mrs. Bhutto's letter to a letter the senator later sent to the caretaker government. Mr. Azfar did not produce a copy of the alleged letter from Senator Mikulski.

He said that Mrs. Bhutto's letter represented an attempt to induce the suspension of U.S. aid to Pakistan. To drive home the point, Pakistan's English-language TV news yesterday followed an item about the letter with a long piece in which Pakistani senators expressed anger over the aid cutoff, calling it "interference in our internal affairs."

All new U.S. military and economic aid to Pakistan -- about $600 million annually -- was suspended Oct. 1 when President Bush failed to certify to Congress that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device.

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