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Ousted Prime Minister Permitted to Visit Detained Husband

November 7, 1996

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A resolute Benazir Bhutto was allowed today to meet her husband _ the man whose sullied reputation helped lead to her ouster as prime minister.

The meeting with Asif Ali Zardari at a detention house came hours after Ms. Bhutto vowed to fight her dismissal in court.

``My hands are clean,″ she said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. ``I don’t allow people to kick me out. Win or lose, I fight.″

Ms. Bhutto, her Cabinet and the National Assembly were fired Tuesday after President Farooq Leghari accused her of sponsoring police death squads, allowing corruption to run rampant and bringing the economy to the brink of bankruptcy.

He placed her in ``protective custody″ and arrested her husband for alleged corruption.

Ms. Bhutto accused Leghari of harassing her husband to get at her and charged that Zardari had been kidnapped. On Wednesday, she threatened to file criminal charges if she was not told of his whereabouts.

Bashir Riaz, an aide to Ms. Bhutto, said she went to the detention house just outside the capital late Wednesday but was not allowed to see him until 2 a.m. today.

``I know that she met him, but they made her wait several hours,″ Riaz said.

A close family friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ms. Bhutto spent about two hours with her husband, whom he described as looking weak. He had no details of their discussions.

Riaz said charges had yet to be filed against Zardari, who served as Bhutto’s investment minister.

He had been embroiled in several financial scandals, earning the nicknames ``Mr. 10 Percent″ and later ``Mr. 40 Percent″ for the commissions he allegedly charged businessmen seeking his help.

Zardari was being held at Sahala, a government building 30 miles north of Islamabad that often is used as a jail for political dissidents. Ms. Bhutto herself was held there in 1979, the year her father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed by the military dictator who toppled him in 1977.

The president appointed an interim prime minister and Cabinet to lead the country until elections set for Feb. 3, nearly two years before Ms. Bhutto was to have stepped down.

Many Pakistanis believe the president may use his accusations against Ms. Bhutto, laid out in a six-page dismissal order Tuesday, to bolster an attempt to bar her from politics. Ms. Bhutto has dismissed the allegations as the machinations of an ambitious politician.

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