Azhar meets Musharraf

By Shakil Shaikh & Robin Fernandez
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2001-06-25 01:40

ISLAMABAD, 24 June — President Pervez Musharraf yesterday met Mian Muhammad Azhar, the president of the breakaway faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, and discussed with him national issues including his upcoming India visit. Azhar was the first politican who met Gen. Musharraf after he assumed the office of the president.

Azhar told reporters after the meeting he had apprised the president of his party’s stand regarding the dissolution of assemblies. Azhar’s faction of the PML suffered a setback with the dissolution of the assemblies as most of the PML deputies loyal to former Premier Nawaz Sharif had switched over to Azhar’s faction hoping assemblies would be restored and they would get slots in the Cabinet.

Azhar said that in his view restoration of assemblies was the best option for a quick return to democracy, but said he was ready to contest elections.

The president, according to an official announcement, told Azhar that the government was aware of the problems being faced by the common man and steps were under way to alleviate their sufferings.

Azhar said he raised serious objection to the statement of an ISPR spokesman terming all politicians corrupt.

Meanwhile, President Musharraf has invited senior politicians  to attend a conference in Islamabad on June 27, a government official said here yesterday.

The invitations have already been sent by Inamul Haq, federal secretary for foreign affairs. Political analysts say the move is aimed at seeking support from the political base ahead of the Indo-Pakistan summit slated for July 14-16. By seeking their opinion, they said, Musharraf would probably be able to soften their opposition to his move of becoming the president.

A government official appeared to agree with this interpretation. “Gen. Musharraf will take the country’s political leadership into confidence over his forthcoming trip to India for talks on Kashmir and other contentious issues.” However, the official refused to explain why Musharraf had changed his original plan of holding one-to-one sessions with the politicians.

The ARD, an amalgam of over a dozen political parties including Sharif’s PML and Pakistan People’s Party of former Premier Benazir Bhutto, will meet on June 26 to decide whether to attend the government-sponsored conference.

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