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Learning English - Words in the News
05 November, 2007 - Published 14:05 GMT
What options for Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan?
Benazir Bhutto

In Pakistan the atmosphere is tense and uncertain two days after President Musharraf declared a state of emergency. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is expected to fly to Islamabad today to talk to opposition figures about a course of action. Jill McGivering assesses her options.

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What Benazir Bhutto decides to do next will be crucial. Just two days ago, she shared a political alliance with President Musharraf and hoped to emerge as prime minister after elections in January. Now, the state of emergency has changed everything.

So far, she's reacted firmly but cautiously. She's said the constitution, and the country's judges, must be re-instated. Free and fair elections must be held. But her rhetoric has been careful and measured. She's avoided personal attacks on President Musharraf. She hasn't threatened moves against him, in the form of public protest, for example. Her restraint suggests she hasn't abandoned altogether the hope a deal could still be salvaged. The fact she hasn't been detained may also suggest the door hasn't entirely closed.

She has called on other countries to use their influence to get the constitution restored. And she has some powerful friends. Diplomats in Washington and London helped to broker her political alliance with the President in the first place. They see it as the best hope for a stable and democratic Pakistan.

Washington in particular wants a political solution which avoids further instability in Pakistan and delivers a government strong enough to tackle extremism. If Ms Bhutto chose to confront the President and took her protest to the streets, the political landscape would be more polarised and insecure than ever. So to Pakistan's allies, from Washington to Beijing, the pressure may be on both parties to try to forge a compromise, however remote the chances may seem.

Jill McGivering, BBC

Listen to the words

firmly but cautiously
strongly but carefully

be re-instated
be given their jobs back

political speech making

showing control of strong emotions

the hope a deal could still be salvaged
the hope that her previous arrangement can be rescued


the door hasn't entirely closed
there is still an opportunity

to broker
to arrange

split into groups with very wide differences in opinion

to forge a compromise
to work hard to reach an agreement

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