Benazir Bhutto defends US attack

22 August 1998 - Saturday - 28 Rabi-us-Saani 1419

KARACHI, Aug 21: Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto said on Friday the United States was within its rights in attacking guerilla camps in Afghanistan.

The former prime minister was speaking to Reuters in an interview in Karachi while across the city demonstrators held rallies, burning the US flag and effigies of President Bill Clinton.

Anti-US protests erupted after Friday prayers in several cities of the country.

Ms Bhutto, who has been fighting allegations of corruption since losing power in November 1996, said the air strikes on Afghan territory did not directly concern Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto

"They (the Taliban) have apparently given refuge to an Arab who is leading a Jihad against the United States and who apparently sponsored the bombings," she said, referring to the exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden.

She said there was a misconceived perception that Pakistan supported the Taliban, and that the air strikes were indirectly aimed at Pakistan, which was "not really the case".

Ms Bhutto said the government should clearly explain that the United States had acted according to its rights under the United Nations charter, and reassure the Pakistani people that it would voice their reservations about the military option.

Ms Bhutto said she would have preferred Clinton to have used the United Nations route to pursue the bombers.

But she added that Clinton had acted according to UN provisions.

"The United Nations charter gives every nation the right to self defence, therefore when the American embassies were bombed it was a matter of time before the Americans responded by going for what they suspected were the causes of the attack," Ms Bhutto said.-Reuters

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