Source : NDTV 
Thursday, August 16, 2007 7:40PM IST (2:10PM GMT)
 
Nawaz Sharif: Musharraf is a Drowning Man on a Sinking Ship
New Delhi, Delhi, India

SHARIF: I NEVER SIGNED ANY AGREEMENT WITH MUSHARRAF OR ANY FUNCTIONARY OF HIS GOVERNMENT

SHARIF: I MAY HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING WITH SAUDI ARABI BUT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MUSHARRAF

SHARIF: THE SAUDIS UNDERSTAND THAT I AM A POLITICIAN

SHARIF: I AM DISAPPOINTED BY BENAZIR.. "I think she will be another Shaukat Aziz. I will not be another Shaukat Aziz if I am looking for making myself independent.

SHARIF: "Musharraf is a drowning man at this stage, he has no options left . I hate to say this but I think he is like a sinking ship"

Will a secret understanding with Saudi Arabia keep former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of Pakistan? President Pervez Musharraf's government has declared that it will produce evidence in the country's Supreme Court of an agreement signed by Sharif promising to stay away from Pakistan and active politics for ten years. But speaking to NDTV in Dubai, the exiled former Prime Minister denied the existence of any such agreement with Musharraf or his representatives.

"I never sighed any agreement with President Musharraf nor his government nor any functionary of his government. None whatsoever. So if I had signed anything with Musharraf, he would have brought it out by now. He would have presented it to the Supreme Court when Mr Shahbaz Sharif was going back to Pakistan.," he said.

Mr. Sharif did concede that he may have had some sort of understanding with the authorities in Saudi Arabia, the country that offered him asylum right after coup in 1999, but said this had no legal bearing on his return. "I may be having an understanding with Saudi Arabia. But that has nothing to do with Mr Musharraf...What transpired between Mr Musharraf and Saudi Arabia, I am not privy to that. But I think Saudis know that Nawaz Sharif is a politician. He has a role to play," he said. .

Asked whether Benazir Bhutto had gone from being an ally to an enemy after her deal with the General, Sharif said, ".... Well, time will tell us, what I've said is that she must come back and join the struggle for restoration of democracy, join the struggle for pushing the army back into the barracks and join the struggle for banning the entry of the generals into politics because this has done great harm"

Mr Sharif made it clear that despite feelers from Musharraf there is no question of him compromising..."we've resisted that. I am not a man who is stubborn or I would not say that I am not prepared to discuss any thing with Musharraf. But there is nothing to discuss with him. A man who is guilty of abrogating the constitution, a man who is guilty of overthrowing an elected government, a man who is guilty of removing the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Do you think he should be talked to? Do you think he should be negotiated with? Do you think we should strike or cut a deal with this man? I think it will be very immoral on my part to strike any deal or even to hold any negotiations with usurpers and dictators.

And here he once again lashed out at Benazir Bhutto ..."I think she will be another Shaukat Aziz. I will not be another Shaukat Aziz if I am looking for making myself independent."

On the dialogue with India, Mr Sharif re-iterated that Musharraf is not trustworthy ..." This Musharraf himself is the man whose responsible for derailing the process of normalisation of relation between Pakistan and India"

Excerpts from the interview:

Regarding any deal with Musharraf:

Barkha Dutt:

There is still a question mark that hangs over your return. Admittedly, the court has now asked the government to explain why you should not be allowed to return. But President Musharraf's government has a reason. They say when you left Pakistan, you signed an agreement that you would not return for 10 years at least.

Nawaz Sharif:

I never sighed any agreement with President Musharraf nor his government nor any functionary of his government. None whatsoever. So if I had signed anything with Musharraf, he would have brought it out by now. He would have presented it to the Supreme Court when Mr Shahbaz Sharif was going back to Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt:

No agreement at all? Nothing on paper that President Musharraf can show the court?

Nawaz Sharif:

Not with Musharraf. Not at all. I may be having an understanding with Saudi Arabia. But that has nothing to do with Mr Musharraf.

Barkha Dutt:

I'm reading between the lines here. You are saying that there was no agreement with President Musharraf. In other words, could there have been agreement with Saudi Arabia, wherein you guarantee that you would not return to active politics in return for asylum in their country?

Nawaz Sharif:

I was never told that. No. And I am thankful to the Saudi King who thought about me in those difficult times. But the thing is that Mr Musharraf has spared no effort in reaching out the Saudis or other people also to stop Mr Nawaz Sharif from coming back to Pakistan. What transpired between Mr Musharraf and Saudi Arabia, I am not privy to that. But I think Saudis know that Nawaz Sharif is a politician. He has a role to play. He has a duty to perform. I have already filed a petition in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has formed a full bench to examine the case and the next date which has been fixed is the 16th. So, I am waiting for the judgement of the Supreme Court. I don't want to make any comments because this is a subjudice matter.

Barkha Dutt:

Have Pervez Musharraf's emissaries tried to reach out to you? You have said on record that there have been feelers for some kind of a deal and you have turned this down. What sort of feelers have you been getting from them?

Nawaz Sharif:

The first emissary that met me was while I was in Saudi Arabia. And the second one met us in London. He first met my brother Shahbaz Sharif. And they came with different proposals. One was prior to the election of 2002. And the other one met when I went to London from Saudi Arabia just about less than two years ago. Both came with proposals that we unify the two factions of Muslim League. The one which is now with Musharraf known as the King's party headed by Choudhry Shujahat Hussain and I would say a faction of turncoats who crossed the flow when Musharraf took over overthrowing my government. And I think that doesn't make any sense. Our party has been struggling for the restoration of democracy, restoration of the constitution of 1973. And the other faction, joined hands with Musharraf and supporting dictatorship. (It) doesn't make sense to merge the two. And even today (I) very strongly feel that the two should get together. But we've resisted that. I am not a man who is stubborn or I would not say that I am not prepared to discuss any thing with Musharraf. But there is nothing to discuss with him. A man who is guilty of abrogating the constitution, a man who is guilty of overthrowing an elected government, a man who is guilty of removing the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Do you think he should be talked to? Do you think he should be negotiated with? Do you think we should strike or cut a deal with this man? I think it will be very immoral on my part to strike any deal or even to hold any negotiations with usurpers and dictators.

"Musharraf is a drowning man at this stage, he has no options left. I hate to say this but I think he is like a sinking ship..Anybody who cuts a deal with Musharraf at this stage would damage his own credibility and I don't want to damage my credibility. I have maintained this stance from 12th October 1999 and I knew Mr Musharraf was very strong at that time"

On Benazir Bhutto's pact with Musharraf:

Barkha Dutt:

Now lets come to somebody who was once your opponent, became your partner and now looks like she is in serious talks with Pervez Musharraf - Benazir Bhutto. Is this a setback to the restoration of democracy?

Nawaz Sharif:

It is, it is a setback. I think it was time that all the political forces of the country got united and struggled for democracy. You see, Pakistan has a long history of struggle for democracy. Pakistan was created after a struggle based on democracy, so I would say that it is a setback.

Barkha Dutt:

So do you believe that Benazir Bhutto has betrayed the agreement that you both signed?

Nawaz Sharif:

She has herself, day before yesterday said on a TV channel which I saw, when I watched the Tv she said I have a secret, I have a confidential understanding with Musharraf on his uniform. I have a confidential understanding with Musharraf on my return back to Pakistan, the only difference is of the timing. So I think this is a clear departure from the charter of democracy that we have signed.

Barkha Dutt:

But for arguments sake, that she may become the next Prime Minister of Pakistan in this deal that she cuts with Musharraf.

Nawaz Sharif:

Barkha, more important than becoming the Prime Minister today, is to address certain issues. More important than elections is to address certain issues which are more important than the elections itself and that is to do away with the 17th Amendment which was abrogated by Mr. Musharraf in perhaps the GHQ, General Headquarters and then declared part of the Constitution. This is absolutely illegal on the Constitution and immoral. So, I think we have to do away with that amendment. We have to turn out of the window of the security council that has been created by Mr. Musharraf, which hangs as a sword at the head of the parliament and I think that unless we address these issues there will be no purpose of becoming the Prime Minister under the 17th Amendment. No Prime Minister can deliver under this. I think she will be another Shaukat Aziz. I will be another Shaukat Aziz if I am looking for making myself independent.

Barkha Dutt:

Do you still see Benazir as a political partner or you feel that she has crossed to the other side?

Nawaz Sharif:

I would wish that she comes back to the All Parties Conference, she sits with us and she stays in this platform, because this is a platform which has struggled for the restoration of democracy, for the constitutional renewal and I think that she should stick to her signatures agreement, her undertaking that she gave me and of course to all parties that she would never talk to dictators, she would never enter into any deal with dictators. I wish and hope that she comes back and join the fold of political parties.

Barkha Dutt:

Do you believe that Benazir Bhutto is an opponent or a partner?

Nawaz Sharif:

Well, time will tell us, what I've said is that she must come back and join the struggle for restoration of democracy, join the struggle for pushing the army back into the barracks and join the struggle for banning the entry of the generals into politics because this has done great harm
On India's dialogue with the Musharraf government:

Barkha Dutt:

Now one of the impacts of the internal turmoil in Pakistan has been the India-Pakistan dialogue that almost stopped completely and India has been unable to access how much, at this point it should talk to Pervez Musharraf, whereas earlier the Indian perception was that he is the best man to do business with. How do you see this india -Pakistan dynamic unfolding..........

Nawaz Sharif:

This Musharraf himself is the man who is responsible for derailing the process of normalisation of relation between Pakistan and India.

Barka Dutt:

How is he responsible?

Nawaz Sharif:

He is the man who subverted the whole process of normalisation. When Mr. Vajpayee came with a lot of good wishes to Pakistan and I also have lot of good wishes for India and we both decided that we will sit down and resolve all issues through negotiations accross the table. And this is the man who subverted the whole process, derailed the process and suddenly launched an attack in Kargil, which of course is a very great setback to both countries and setback to the process of normalisation. So I think, a man who is responsible, how can we rely upon such a man.

Barkha Dutt:

So do you think India made a mistake by dealing with him all these years?

Nawaz Sharif:

India should never talk to dictatorships. If we have dictatorship in Pakistan, we should wait till we have democracy, and we are going to have democracy soon in Pakistan.

Barkha Dutt:

But for eight years, if we had not involved any dialogue with Pakistan, it would have been realistic?

Nawaz Sharif:

What would you lose....nothing

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