The NewsFuror

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Huge crowds greet Bhutto return

Hundreds of thousands of people have been greeting Benazir Bhutto, following her dramatic return to Pakistan after eight years in exile.

Well-wishers packed the streets of Karachi in the hope of glimpsing the ex-PM, causing her motorcade to get bogged down as it left the airport.

Ms Bhutto is set to hold power-sharing talks with President Pervez Musharraf, which could see her becoming PM again.

She has pledged to work towards free and fair elections.

There is a huge security presence amid threats of attacks by militants.

Roads clogged

Ms Bhutto flew from Dubai, accompanied on the flight from Dubai by about 100 members of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

At least 200,000 people turned out to greet her, lining the 6km (four-mile) route from the airport into the city.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says many people are dressed in the red, black and green colours of Ms Bhutto's PPP party and there is a carnival atmosphere, with music playing and food stalls in place.

The size of the crowd on the streets means her convoy is making very slow progress

Reports say her special bullet-proof truck took three hours to go just half a kilometre and that the road was still clogged as dusk fell.

The former prime minister rejected police calls to sit inside the vehicle, instead on top of it with party colleagues.

Ms Bhutto is planning to make a speech at the tomb of Pakistan's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

"It's an extremely moving and emotional moment for me," Ms Bhutto told the BBC after her arrival in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city.

"I could not believe that this day that I have counted the hours, the minutes, the months and the years to, had finally arrived."

Enduring popularity

When she first stepped onto Pakistani soil at Karachi airport Ms Bhutto was overcome with emotion and burst into tears.

Many PPP supporters have been bussed in from outlying areas by the party - a show of organisational strength which the ex-prime minister hopes will boost her chances of a return to power, correspondents report.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Karachi says that despite being away for eight years, Ms Bhutto is still enormously popular as a scion of Pakistan's pre-eminent political dynasty.

About 20,000 troops and police have been deployed in the city to oversee Ms Bhutto's arrival amid threats by Islamist militants to assassinate both her and Gen Musharraf.

Gen Musharraf had asked Ms Bhutto to delay her return until the Supreme Court decided whether he was eligible to serve as president for another term.

He easily won a presidential vote on 6 October after opposition deputies in the national and provincial assemblies - which choose the president - either boycotted or abstained from the vote.

However, the court said he could not be officially declared the winner until it had finished ruling on objections to his candidacy.

Ms Bhutto left the country soon after Gen Musharraf seized power in a coup.

Washington has backed a power-sharing deal with Gen Musharraf which would see Ms Bhutto becoming prime minister.

It has become increasingly concerned over the military's inability to defeat Islamist extremists and Gen Musharraf's rising unpopularity.

Drogba 'wants to leave Chelsea'

Didier Drogba is unhappy at Chelsea and wants to leave the club, according to France Football magazine.

In an interview due to be published on Friday, the striker, 29, says morale has plummeted since Jose Mourinho left.

"I want to leave Chelsea. Something is broken with Chelsea," Drogba said. "The damage is big in the dressing room."

But Chelsea said: "Didier signed a new four-year contract last year. As a top professional we're sure he is committed to Chelsea and intends to honour it."

France Football is a well-established magazine in France that awards the Ballon d'Or for the European Footballer of the Year.

Drogba joined Chelsea from Marseille for £24m in July 2004 and has been the subject of regular speculation since then despite a prolific record with the Blues.

He signed his new deal last November but told the BBC the following month that he had considered leaving the previous summer in the wake of Chelsea's second successive league title.

In the interview, Drogba is quoted as saying he wanted an even earlier exit and will not change his mind even if the club make high-profile signings next summer.

"Nothing can stop me from leaving now," he said.

Drogba says Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan or Inter Milan would be his preferred destination.

"Since the day I arrived, I wanted to leave Chelsea and then again every summer," he said.

"I know that Ronaldinho and Kaka are linked to come next season but even that won't change my mind."

Murray ready for Nadal in Madrid

Andy Murray cannot wait to face Rafael Nadal in front of the world number two's home crowd in the Madrid Masters third round on Thursday at 1900 BST.

The British number one has been in sensational form this week, beating Radek Stepanek and Juan Ignacio Chela for the loss of just nine games.

Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer thrashed Guillermo Canas 6-0 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, third seed Novak Djokovic beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 2-6 6-4.

The Serb will face Mario Ancic in the next round after the Croat eased past France's Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-3.

Last year's losing finalist Fernando Gonzalez, the fifth seed from Chile, had an emphatic 6-4 6-2 victory over Argentine Juan Monaco.

Murray, meanwhile, will be seeking to join them in the last eight and admits that he will have to serve well to overcome the Spanish star.

Nadal won their only previous meeting, a dramatic five-setter at the Australian Open in January.

"That was one of the best matches I've played on the tour," said Murray. "Probably in a Grand Slam the best match I've played. I was a little bit unlucky in part of the fifth set, had a lot of chances but I didn't take them.

"But indoors, if I serve like I have been, I have a good chance against him.

"I will not be the favourite going into the match, but I feel if I play like I have done in the last couple of matches it's going to be tough to beat me."

Nadal set up the tie by beating Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 6-4 in the second round - his first competitive match since going out of the US Open at the start of September.

The Spaniard believes Murray, ranked 17th in the world, could have been in the top six had it not been for the wrist injury he suffered in Hamburg in May.

Murray was kept out of action for three months and Nadal said: "In my opinion, if he did not have the problem in Hamburg he might have been at this moment the number two, three, four, five, six in the world.

"It was disappointing for him but now he is fighting for a good end to the season. He has played very well in the last two tournaments."