Musharraf, Benazir meet in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI — Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister and Pakistan People’s Party chief Benazir Bhutto held talks in Abu Dhabi yesterday, according to informed sources.

By M.a. Qudoos (Deputy Bureau Chief)

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Published: Sat 28 Jul 2007, 8:34 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:21 AM

The meeting was held amid speculation about a possible ‘deal’ between the PPP and President Musharraf that would pave the way for Benazir’s return to Pakistan from exile and re-election of Gen. Musharraf as president in uniform from the present assembly.

The meeting is understood to have lasted for about an hour in which the two leaders discussed the overall political situation in Pakistan. Benazir was alone in the meeting while others present in the meeting included ISI chief, and Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad. However, sources said that the meeting ended without any conclusive results on the issue of General Musharraf continuing as President in uniform which was not acceptable to the PPP. It is learnt that the government agreed to remove the condition from the constitution that a person cannot be the country’s prime minister for a third term. However, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told media that uniform had never been an issue in the discussions.

Later, President Musharraf left Abu Dhabi for Jeddah where he will perform Umrah and meet Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. Speculation is ripe that he would meet Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group) leader Shahbaz Sharif in Jeddah. However, Sharif told

Pakistani media that his party and PPP were signatories to the Charter of Democracy which prohibits any contact with a military dictator. “We (the PML-N) are sticking to the Charter. If Ms. Bhutto is meeting President Musharraf, it is her decision,” he said. Benazir had hurriedly flown from London to meet the Pakistani president in Abu Dhabi after cancelling all her engagements there.

However, both the government and PPP spokespersons denied that the meeting took place. Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE and Special Envoy for the Middle East, Ahsan Ullah Khan, said, “Nothing was planned and nothing has happened.” PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said from Islamabad, said, “I am not aware ...whether any meeting has taken place or not. I am trying to contact Ms. Bhutto but I am not successful.”

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