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Sharif snub to Pervez poll deal

Islamabad, Oct. 3 (PTI): Deposed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he was offered a deal to contest the general elections by President Pervez Musharraf but he turned it down.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC Urdu Service, Sharif, who was ousted in a military coup three years ago, said Musharraf had sent an envoy earlier this year inviting him to return to Pakistan to contest the parliamentary elections under a deal. However, he turned it down. He refused to divulge any details.

The former Premier, who went into exile in Saudi Arabia two years ago, said he would continue his fight against the dictatorship of Musharraf.

He alleged that Musharraf sent Majid Nizami, a newspaper baron close to the Sharif family, with a specific proposal for political rapprochement.

Appearing defiant and emotional, Sharif said as Prime Minister he had administered the oath of office to Musharraf when he became the army commander. Musharraf had promised to uphold the Constitution and not get involved in politics, he said. “Musharraf had betrayed his oath and the people of Pakistan won’t forget it,” Sharif said and made it clear that he could not even think about a deal with him.

Sharif said he now regretted appointing Musharraf army chief and promoting him over three senior generals.

Sharif branded next week’s general elections in Pakistan as “farcical”, adding that even the EU monitors have declared Musharraf’s actions illegal.

The former Premier, who withdrew his nomination papers to show solidarity with his former rival Benazir Bhutto after the authorities rejected her candidacy, said it was now time for the Pakistan Peoples’ Party and all other democratic people to join hands against dictatorial rule.

Asked if leaving Pakistan in order to escape being jailed was a betrayal of the masses, he said everything was decided by god. When god decided to send them to Saudi Arabia, the family accepted it as a blessing in disguise.

Sharif spoke at length on political and non-political matters but refused to allow his voice to be recorded as he did not want to embarrass his hosts.

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