RAWALPINDI, Nov 6, Reuter: Nawaz Sharif, The powerful Chief Minister of Punjab province who wants to become Pakistan’s next Prime Minister, accused Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Sunday of trying to hijack the country’s nuclear program

He devoted most of a speech at an election rally to denouncing the Bhutto family, accusing it or repression when in power and hijacking planes when out of it,

Sharif is one of the mainstays of the anti-Bhutto Islamic democratic alliance (IDA) formed to fight the November 16 elections.

“We will defeat these ill-intentioned people, so they will go back to where they were raised and educated,” he said. Bhutto, 35, was educated at U.S and British universities.

“There was a period in this country when anyone who spoke against the government was crushed,” he said, referring to the 1971-1977 rule of Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

“When they lost power, they started hijacking planes. Now they want to hijack our nuclear program.

Bhutto’s brothers Murtaza and the late Shahnawaz were the leaders of a guerrilla group called Al-Zulfikar, blamed by the government for the 1981 hijacking of a Pakistani airliner.

Her mother Nusrat, who is standing in the elections, was quoted by a magazine as saying Pakistan’s top secret nuclear research plant at Kahuta should be opened for U.S. inspection. Nusrat Bhutto has denied making the remarks.

But the IDA has seized on the issue in its campaign which is focused on attacking the Bhutto family.

Western scientists say Pakistan has built a nuclear bomb at Kahuta, but Islamabad says its program is for energy.

Bhutto, campaigning in Sukkur in her home province of Sind, renewed her calls for people to be allowed to vote without presenting identification cards. People who had other means of identification should be allowed to vote, she said.

The Lahore High Court on Sunday began hearing a petition from a leading member of her Pakistan People’s party (PPP) to lift the identity card requirement. The case was adjourned to Monday.

The People’s Party has written to acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, saying up to 40 percent of the electorate would be disenfranchised.

The government, many of whose members are in the IDA, says the requirement is necessary to avoid cheating.

The IDA campaign has picked up steam in the last few days. Its green flag and bicycle election symbol decorate cars, lamp-posts and walls though they are not as numerous as the PPP’s tri-colour flag.

Article extracted from this publication >> November 11, 1988