Musharraf Ready to Sort Out Differences With Sharif

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
Musharraf Ready to Sort Out Differences With Sharif
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said he is ready to sort out his differences with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, whose government he had deposed in a military coup in 1999, if such a move leads to a "good future" for the country.

Musharraf, who has been living outside Pakistan since early 2009, made the remarks during an interview with Dawn News channel in Dubai.

"I would not mind if it happens for the good future of the country," he said.

The former president said he had not phoned Sharif to enquire about his health after the former premier underwent emergency heart surgery in London recently because "his heart and mind did not allow him to do so in view of some statements by PML-N leaders".

Musharraf quit as President in 2008 to avoid being impeached by the Pakistan People's Party-led government. He has been living in self-exile in London for the past two years.

Pakistani prosecutors recently declared Musharraf an "absconder" for not cooperating in the probe into the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto and a court has issued an arrest warrant for him.

Asked about the warrant issued for him by the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi, Musharraf declined to comment on "these technical, legal questions".

He said he would return to Pakistan and did not fear going to jail but "I am waiting for the proper time".

Responding to a question about Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Musharraf said he liked him.

"He (Singh) is a nice man for Pakistan," he said.

Asked to name his favourite Pakistani leader, Musharraf quipped: "I, myself."

After a pause, he named former President Ayub Khan.

In reply to a question about a petition filed by former President Rafiq Tarar for removing all references to Musharraf from the list of past presidents, he said Tarar was an "irrelevant person".

He said that when he was in power, he had good relations with Tarar and had asked him to continue serving as President.

Musharraf said he had helped Tarar and visited his home when he was President.

"Tarar, who was actually a man of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his father, had played a key role in purchasing the loyalties of judges when Justice Sajad Ali Shah was the Chief Justice of Pakistan," Musharraf contended.

The former President said he had no regrets about leading a military coup on October 12, 1999 and imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.

"It was my good luck that the coup happened," he said.

When reminded that the Constitution had been abrogated on both occasions, Musharraf said the country was more important than the Constitution, which, according to him, was a piece of paper.

Musharraf said he had appointed Mushahid Hussain Syed as secretary general of the PML-Q after consulting former premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

He said the PML-Q had virtually fallen apart and most of its leaders would not contest the next elections from its platform.

Many of them had contacted him and some were considering contesting elections as independent candidates, Musharraf said.

He admitted that setting up a new party without the help of government and intelligence agencies was a difficult job.

He said he had written letters to former nazims (mayor) of all districts, inviting them to join his new All Pakistan Mulsim League and had received a good response.

When asked if his handpicked army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was in touch with him, Musharraf replied in the negative.

In reply to a question on whether Kayani had contacted him when he was named in the Bhutto assassination case, Musharraf said: "These contacts are often made."

He did not give details. He also avoided commenting on the three-year extension granted to Kayani last year.
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