Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was not prepared to postpone her return to Pakistan due to the “considerable amounts” invested in her welcome campaign.
This was revealed in a WikiLeaks cable classified by former US Ambassador Anne Patterson on October 14, 2007. Earlier, former President Pervez Musharraf had urged Bhutto to stay away till the National Reconciliatory Order (NRO) cases had been decided.
In the cable, Patterson quoted Babar Awan as saying that the PPP leader would “definitely return to Karachi on October 18”.
Bhutto herself committed to the same on October 11, responding to Musharraf’s remarks the evening before on live TV that Bhutto should re-think her plans.
The cable reads:
Other PPP contacts relayed that Bhutto had seriously considered Musharraf’s request, but had been talked out of it because party members and contributors had already invested considerable amounts to ensure an impressive welcome. PPP contacts are predicting 400,000 to 500,000 supporters will show up in Karachi on October 18.
The cable also reveals that Bhutto’s inner circle reportedly warned her of a “lackluster turnout” if the date were moved because party workers and the general public would feel betrayed.
Cable Referenced: WikiLeaks no. 125683
The full text of the cables can be read on Dawn.com, The Hinduand NDTV. WikiLeaks has previously released cables to other media organisations including Guardian and the New York Times.