Musharraf plays ‘politically neutral’ president


Islamabad : In an attempt to send a message that he would remain politically neutral, President Pervez Musharraf has distanced himself from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), the party that supported the former military general.

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The president has adopted this new stance (of being neutral) to create an environment for free, fair and impartial general elections Jan 8, The News said quoting sources.

The grievances and complaints by political parties are being registered and studied by the presidency for suitable action.

Though no meeting between Musharraf and former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif is on the president’s cards, it cannot be ruled out, the daily said Sunday.

Musharraf, who was elected the civilian president Nov 29 after he shed his military uniform, is prepared to meet Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto together or separately, if they so desire, the newspaper said quoting the sources.

“The interlocutors of the presidency are in constant touch with all political parties, including Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.”

Musharraf’s media advisor Maj. Gen. (retd.) Rashid Qureshi told The News Sunday that Bhutto and Sharif were not required to talk to the government and for that the matter with the president through any link.

“They can meet the president any time by expressing their desire for the same,” Qureshi said.

“President and Benazir Bhutto did not have one-to-one meeting since the latter returned home, but they can meet any time provided that she asks for a meeting.”

Qureshi parried a question for a direct comment on the meeting between the two former prime ministers in the Pakistan capital Monday and said that no true political leader would opt to stay away from the election process.

Asked about Musharraf’s relationships with PML-Q, Qureshi said it was one of the political parties like the others and the president was equal for all.