Nawaz advised to soften anti-Musharraf stand
By Mayed Ali, The News,March 25, 2008
LAHORE: US officials have asked PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif to soften his stand on President Pervez Musharraf as their government feels comfortable getting along with the man atop the hill, The News has learnt.
In a 55-minute-long meeting with former PM Nawaz Sharif at the Punjab House in Islamabad on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher explained how important President Musharraf was for the US in its war on terror. They explained Musharraf had been part of the USís war on terror since 2001.
Shahbaz Sharif, Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Kh Asif, Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal were also present. However, Nawaz countered the US officials’ stance on the ground that the recent mandate of the people had established the president had lost the trust of the masses. Nawaz challenged the policies of President Musharraf, especially his approach to the war on terror.
Elaborating his contention, Nawaz Sharif said President Musharraf had been part of the war on terror problem, and cannot become part of the solution. Nawaz dilated upon the adventurism of the establishment led by President Musharraf during the Taliban days. Nawaz said his government had opposed the establishment of a base in Jalalabad in the Taliban days, but President Musharraf went ahead with the plan. Nawaz tried to explain how crucial was President Musharraf’s role in strengthening the Taliban government and consequently consolidating al-Qaeda’s position in the region.
Nawaz also informed the US officials how President Musharraf manipulated the 2002 elections in the NWFP, giving massive representation to the rightwing parties. He was of the view the bid was aimed at creating an excuse to scare the US of the dire situation in Pakistan. He used the rightwingers for prolonging his rule, making himself indispensable for the US.
Nawaz Sharif also told the officials about the inhumane treatment meted out to him and his family when he was in exile. From hard pre-poll rhetoric to a pragmatic post-poll handling of vital issues, former premier Nawaz Sharif has come a long way as a statesman. Sources said the party leader knew exactly the stated standpoints of both the parties engaged in dialogue. So, he didn't touch the issues already understood. Nawaz remained focused on the agenda taken up by the guests. He told the US officials parliament would not become a rubberstamp of the presidency. He remained focused on the supremacy of the parliament, which, he conveyed, had to be sovereign while taking important policy decisions. Nawaz put his point across to the Americans with regard to the latter's interest in Pakistan. He told the US officials the policy-decisions vis-a-vis the war on terror had to be routed through the elected parliament, and his party wouldn't appreciate the US’s overwhelming dependence on Musharraf.
Nawaz discussed in detail the mismanaged facets of the war on terror. He told the US how costly was this war for Pakistan. The former PM attributed the growing violence in Pakistan to poor handling of the issue, saying only elected representatives of the people had the potential and the right to formulate policies with regard to this menace. The PML-N leader said terrorism was unacceptable; however, he had reservations on the operational mismanagement in war on terror. He believed the West would have to win the hearts and minds of the people rather than indiscriminate pounding of suspected terrorists' hubs, which had inherent threat of great collateral damage.
Nawaz suggested the political configuration of the new setups in the centre and the NWFP was conducive to resolving this problem. He told the US officials the PML-N supported the cause of fighting terrorism, but with a different approach. As for the success in this mission, he added the US and the West would have to give precedence to the parliament, the body representing 160 million Pakistanis, rather than banking on President Musharraf alone.
Also See:New Pakistani Leaders Tell Americans There’s ‘a New Sheriff in Town’ - NYT
Pakistan not to play into US hands, says Nawaz - The News