Benazir to Sharif: No deal with Musharraf
Apr 8, 2007 - 4:00:15 PM

Lahore/Dubai, April 8 - Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has assured Nawaz Sharif, also Pakistan's former premier and her rival turned ally, that she has not struck a deal with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

She admitted to having talks through emissaries with the military ruler but insisted that the talks were of 'routine' nature.

On Saturday, the two held 'a surprise meeting' in Dubai, where they are in exile, and mulled over the political situation in Pakistan. Bhutto assured Sharif that no deal was in the offing, the Daily Times reported from Dubai.

Sharif responded by saying that not only he but leaders of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy -, the opposition conglomerate of centrist parties, were also worried about persistent reports about her talks with government interlocutors.

Tariq Aziz, a top aide of Musharraf and secretary of the National Security Council, met with Bhutto prior to her meeting with Sharif.

Their talks were inconclusive, but they appear to have prompted Bhutto to call on Sharif, Pakistan Online reported.

Both Bhutto and Sharif have been in Dubai for quite some days now, and rumours were rife that Sharif was extremely perturbed by reports of an 'imminent deal' between the government and the Pakistan Peoples Party -.

Bhutto personally took the initiative to visit Sharif Saturday to dispel these concerns. She assured him that details of any talks or deal with the government would be shared with him, since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was 'a partner of the PPP' in the ARD.

Sharif said Bhutto and her PPP should make its stand clear since one of the conditions in the 'Charter of Democracy' signed by the two former premiers in May 2006 was that neither party would make a deal with Musharraf.

The meeting in Dubai came amidst feverish political activities in Islamabad, both in the government and in the opposition circles, indicating that a 'deal' was in the offing and that Musharraf might jettison Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and anyone who might oppose it.

Pakistan Muslim League -, the ruling party Musharraf has backed, has been vehemently opposed to any such deal and wants the Sharif and Bhutto families pursued for corruption charges.

Islamabad has been agog with reports that Bhutto was readying to walk into Musharraf's parlour after the government shifted an official who had been pursuing corruption cases against her and her husband Asif Ali Zardari. The by-word for this has been 'dheel' - to the Bhuttos, leading to a 'deal'.

Musharraf himself has maintained a studied silence on the 'deal' after stating some weeks ago that the elections he plans to hold would keep out both Sharif and Bhutto.

In Lahore, PPP general secretary Jahangir Badar said his party did not believe in the politics of 'dheel' or 'deal' because it is the biggest political party having a large vote bank.

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