ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revealed on Tuesday that retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had offered him an “underhanded” deal to form a joint government in 2008.
Speaking at a meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentary committee, the prime minister said: “Musharraf wanted a secret deal with me in 2007.”
A source quoted the prime minister as saying that he did not believe in secret deals, which was why he was always blessed with success.
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“Musharraf offered me the deal directly, but I turned it down,” the prime minister revealed for the first time.
Retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had many members of the Sharif family, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sent into exile in Saudi Arabia, where they remained until their return to Pakistan in Nov 2007.
PM Sharif said Gen Musharraf was willing to meet him and made several attempts to do so in the past.
“But I declined,” the prime minister said.
He said that his family did not want to leave their motherland, but were forced into exile by the military dictator.
“We left the country in a miserable condition and were not allowed to return for a long time,” he said.
The prime minister noted that the former president was now facing a similar fate and had left the country in disgrace.
“Now, Musharraf is willing to return to the country, but he cannot,” he said.
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The government of Nawaz Sharif was toppled by Gen Musharraf through a coup in 1999 and many members of the Sharif family, PM Sharif himself, were forced into exile in Saudi Arabia, where they remained until their return to Pakistan in Nov 2007.
However, PM Sharif’s assertions were disputed by former Musharraf aide and All-Pakistan Muslim League member Ahmed Raza Kasuri. “I have been working with Gen Musharraf for a long time and I have never heard any such thing,” he said.
Mr Kasuri said everyone knew that the Sharifs went abroad under an agreement for 10 years and there could be no question that Musharraf offered him a deal to form a joint government.
“It was, in fact, Nawaz Sharif who was begging to return to the country in 2007,” he maintained.
Regarding Musharraf’s own exile, he said his party chief went abroad after he was allowed to leave the country by the Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court. He said that while the former general left the country amid fanfare, the Sharifs escaped “like thieves”.
“[The claim is] absolute rubbish and [a] bundle of lies, which has only been propagated for [the prime minister’s] image-building that was badly affected due to his lies in the Panama scandal,” Mr Kasuri concluded.
Meanwhile, other important issues were also discussed in the parliamentary committee meeting, including preparations for the 2018 general elections.
One of the members present complained that federal ministers did not meet party leaders and workers.
It was also proposed that senators should be given development funds along the lines of those received by members of the National Assembly so that they could also carry out development projects in their constituencies.