Benazir Bhutto won a small victory last week in her long-running battle with the government of Prime Minister Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif over charges of corruption: a Pakistani court unfroze her declared assets, which had been frozen at the government's request in April. But there have been setbacks for her as well. A judge in Switzerland two weeks ago recommended that Bhutto be prosecuted on charges of money laundering. And for nearly two years her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has languished in a Karachi jail on accusations of involvement in the 1996 death of Bhutto's brother Mir Murtaza. Pakistani prosecutors have been poring over her finances as well as the record of her two terms as Prime Minister for evidence of wrongdoing. Throughout the ordeal, Bhutto has stoutly maintained her innocence. In a lengthy May 18 story, TIME detailed the government's seemingly relentless campaign against the former Prime Minister and her husband. That account did not please Bhutto. So we asked her to write an article giving her side of the story. Her response:In 1988, at the age of 35, I became the first woman leader of the Muslim world when I was democratically elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan. My victory at the polls was no fluke, but rather the product of 11 long years of struggle. My role in the fight to restore democracy following its overthrow and the death of my father at the hands of the military dictator General Zia ul Haq is now part of history.I twice held the office of Prime Minister--between 1988 and 1990, and again from 1993 to 1996. During these two stints in office, the government of my Pakistan People's Party (PPP) greatly enhanced the standing of Pakistan both internally and in the eyes of the world. Among other accomplishments, my government projected Islam as a religion of moderation. My speeches at major international conferences--on population planning in Cairo and on women's rights in Beijing--united women in the East and the West. I galvanized the economy by encouraging foreign investment and actually paid off some of the principal on the country's huge foreign debts. My programs to eliminate polio and reduce the population growth rate from a staggering 3.1% to 2.6% earned the gratitude of my countywomen. I restored the writ of government in Pakistan, giving the country stability, peace and prosperity, with an economic growth rate that hit 6%. All of this is now forgotten.When my government ended in 1996, one of the complaints against it was corruption. A similar charge had been leveled against the government of Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif when he was dismissed as Prime Minister in 1993. Unsubstantiated allegations of corruption are simply a convenient catch-all phrase thrown in among many other reasons whenever a government in Pakistan is dismissed.The current regime assumed office in February 1997. It is headed by Mr. Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), the other main political party in Pakistan and the bitter rival of the PPP. Since assuming office, notwithstanding the enormous economic and other problems facing the country, the Nawaz Sharif government has adopted a one-point agenda: the elimination of the opposition party in Pakistan, with a view toward promoting one-party rule and thwarting the democratic process that I had done so much to guarantee. This agenda has focused on leveling false allegations against me and my husband, Senator Asif Ali Zardari, accompanied by a well-orchestrated media trial that a celebrity-hungry press finds exciting.I am being tried under laws that did not exist when I was Prime Minister. The allegations largely involve unsubstantiated charges of corruption under the new Ehtesab (Accountability) Act 1997, passed with retroactive effect. Such laws are against the principles of natural justice. Complaints of alleged corruption under the Act are routed through the chairman of the Ehtesab Bureau, Saifur Rehman, who conveniently happens to be both a Senator from the PML and a close associate of the current Prime Minister. Hence the legal maxim that no man should be a judge in his own cause has been thrown out the window. Some Pakistanis have gone to the courts and to the press in attempts to expose the Senator's brutal efforts to coerce them into committing perjury.Ninety percent of cases investigated have been against my party workers and me. The real irony, however, is that the chairman of the Ehtesab Bureau is himself a loan defaulter whose company in the last budget benefited from the reduction in the duty imposed on the import of luxury cars, which happens to be his business. No doubt this was his reward for his campaign of victimization against my party and me under the guise of the Ehtesab Act.Despite all the misleading statements emanating from the government, no investigations are being carried out against me by authorities in Britain. In Switzerland, authorities are investigating false allegations leveled against me by the Pakistani government. The High Court of Sindh province has stayed the Pakistani government from either corresponding with Swiss officials or pursuing the inquiry there until its legality has been determined. The government of Pakistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, has reportedly spent around $18 million in these desperate attempts to implicate me in false cases abroad. Yet the efforts have so far proved unsuccessful.In Pakistan itself, only a few complaints have been filed against me under the Ehtesab Act, even though government investigators have gone through nearly every executive action of my two periods in office with a fine-tooth comb. Let me summarize these accusations, for which charges have not yet been framed:PIA. I have been accused of making illegal appointments at Pakistan International Airways. This case has nothing to do with financial impropriety. Interestingly, an identical reference--with full supporting evidence--was filed against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but has not been referred to any court. Initially, I was not referred to in this case. I was added later on, when one of the people originally accused agreed to falsely implicate me in return for the case being dropped against him.Assets Misdeclaration. I have been accused of misdeclaring my assets when filing nomination papers for the 1997 elections. Again, this case does not involve financial impropriety. The official disinformation campaign has it that I own 11 properties in the United States, even though the government's own detectives have confirmed that the properties are not mine. The public prosecutor admitted before the Lahore High Court that there is not a single piece of direct evidence linking me to bank accounts frozen by Switzerland.ARY Gold. I have been accused of granting monopoly rights for the import of gold to a firm called ARY Gold in return for receiving commissions. In fact, the contract was awarded after open tender in which only one company met the requirements. I played no role in selecting the successful bidder. Once again, I was not initially accused but named only later, after various witnesses were coerced into giving false statements against me in return for favors.Tractors. I have been accused of receiving commissions for the award of contracts to various tractor companies. Ironically, I am blamed for increasing the subsidized price of tractors for poor farmers from 110,000 rupees [about $2,200 at current exchange rates] to 150,000 [$3,000]. Yet today in the open market similar tractors are selling for 400,000 rupees [$8,000].PSI Companies. I am accused of favoritism in the awarding of customs inspection contracts to a Swiss firm. Yet the contracts were initially negotiated by the Nawaz Sharif government in 1992. They were awarded through open tender by the Revenue Department, which in 1994 put forward its choice to a committee that included me, the Adviser on Finance, the Law Minister and other government functionaries, who approved it unanimously. The pre-shipment inspection companies managed to enhance revenue collection to the benefit of the country by millions of rupees.The evidence in all the above cases would be unlikely to get past the grand jury stage in the United States, let alone see a courtroom. The cases are based on political victimization that in any mature democracy would have no place in a court of law. This much-publicized victimization, however, is not just serving the political purpose of undermining the opposition in Pakistan. It is also furthering the government's campaign to draw people's attention away from the real issues facing the country, such as the collapse of the economy and the disharmony among the provinces, which are polarizing daily.With the freezing of foreign currency accounts and the unjustified cancellation of power projects following its nuclear tests, the government in one fell swoop destroyed investor confidence and trust in Pakistan. The result, economists agree, is likely to be hyperinflation, with all the social and economic consequences that accompany it. Worryingly, petroleum prices have already increased by 25%, and every day foodstuffs like bread, cooking oil and ghee (clarified butter) are rising in price.If the government's handling of the economic situation was a blunder of monumental proportions, then its dealings with India have been a true disaster. As I write this article, heavy shelling continues along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and the specter of war between the two traditional rivals is again rearing its ugly head. Such tensions are unlikely to lead to an early signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by either country. That situation will keep the economy-squeezing effect of the sanctions firmly around Pakistan's neck. As the nation nears the 21st century, the answers to our problems with India, including Kashmir, are likely to lie only in diplomacy, not in aggression and saber-rattling.The policies of this government have also continued to undermine the concept of federalism upon which Pakistan and its constitution are based. Such policies seem geared to favor the Prime Minister's home province, Punjab, at the expense of the others. By reopening the contentious Kalabagh Dam issue, the government has created greater tensions among the provinces, at precisely the time when it should have been seeking greater unity and solidarity.My only hope is that the government can put aside its petty vendetta against the opposition party, and me in particular, and wake up to the needs of the nation before it is too late.