Benazir, Musharraf did not want Sharif to return from exile, reveals ex-PM

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Islamabad, June 9 (IANS) Former Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has claimed that former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto did not want Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan before the 2008 general elections.

Aziz, who held the prime minister’s office from 2004 to 2007, was talking in a Geo TV’s programme about the claims made in his recently published book.

“The then US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard Boucher told me that both Musharraf and Benazir wanted Sharif to stay abroad to avoid competition,” said Aziz.

He too found “some merit” in such a proposition, he added.

Aziz claimed that after the October 1999 coup, the then US President Bill Clinton asked Musharraf to remain cautious, adding that both Saudi Arabia and US prevented the then government from any step which could threaten anyone’s life.

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“But the final agreement took place after he (Musharraf) came to know through Lebanese business tycoon and the country’s then PM Rafiq-Al-Hariri that the Saudis were angry over Nawaz Sharif’s treatment by the government after his ouster from power,” he added.

During the show, Aziz said the US wanted Benazir to become the prime minister and wanted Musharraf to remain president.

When asked as to what Musharraf wanted himself, Aziz said “only Musharraf can answer this question” but “his research” says that the former military ruler was ready for such a settlement as things were already heading towards it.



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