Musharraf can't stop me: Sharif

DUBAI — The forthcoming elections in Pakistan will determine the direction of the country, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's former prime minister and exiled leader of his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times yesterday.

By M.a. Qudoos, Aijaz Zaka Syed

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Published: Mon 16 Apr 2007, 8:58 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:42 AM

Nawaz SharifThe former prime minister vowed to return to Pakistan at a “right time”. He said that he would choose the time to return to Pakistan and that President Musharraf cannot stop him from returning to Pakistan. When asked by Khaleej Times what if he were arrested on his return to Pakistan, as his brother Shahbaz Sharif had been, Sharif said: “Musharraf cannot do it again and again.'

Commenting on the current state of affairs in Pakistan, the former prime minister said that change is imminent. 'In my opinion, this is not the route which will lead us to a truly democratic state because of several amendments, such as the 17th amendment, to the constitution which have been brought in by the military dictators,' he said.

Sharif said that returning to power was a secondary issue for him. What is important is returning to democracy and changing the direction in which the party is headed, he stressed. 'Our party has the capability of doing better than in the past in the coming elections. I am not taking part in the elections to gain power. We have to put the country back on track first. This is the responsibility of the people and all the political parties today,' he said.

The former prime minister said that his party has not been in touch with the military rulers and the PML-N is strictly abiding by the Charter of Democracy in its letter and spirit. “I would be very happy to see all political parties move forward together on this front. I am talking of all the political forces in the country, including myself and the PPP,” he said. Asked about reported parleys between the Musharraf regime and former prime minister and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister said he could only speak for himself and his party.

Asked if his party would take part in elections if President Musharraf is re-elected by the present parliament, he said, 'Only wrong ideas are coming to his mind, which are unconstitutional and unethical. It will be a wrong thing to seek another mandate from a parliament which has already outlived its life.'

'It will be an ideal situation if the whole country rises, the nation rises, against military interventions. Unless we check frequent military interventions, Pakistan will not be recognised as a civilised country in the comity of nations,' Sharif said.

On recent demonstrations of religious extremism in Pakistan, Sharif said, 'I do not know, but people say that it (growing extremism) is government sponsored.'

Sharif said that the opposition protests during the current judicial crisis in Pakistan were very effective and the participation of the people was increasing by the day.

Asked how his government would have dealt with the US pressure on Pakistan, he said that a democratically elected government would not ride on the shoulders of an external force. 'We have never depended on any outside force. We have faith in our people. A military dictator always looks outside for recognition of his regime,' he said.

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