Pakistan: Sharif says no to presidential post


Islamabad : PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has ruled himself out as a candidate for the post of president and said his party could become part of Pakistan’s new government only if President Pervez Musharraf steps down.

Support TwoCircles

Reacting to reports that he could be made president as part of efforts by the PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party to form the new government after the Feb 18 polls, Sharif said he was not a candidate for the post.

The PML-N had assured the PPP of its complete support in forming government at the centre, the former premier said.

“We have assured (PPP co-chairman) Asif Ali Zardari of our full cooperation whether the PML-N becomes part of the government or not,” Sharif told ARY Oneworld news channel.

“We will only become part of government when Musharraf quits the office of president,” he said.

The PML-N and PPP, which swept the polls, have agreed to form government with the backing of the Awami National Party, which draws its support from the Pashtuns of northwestern Pakistan, and independent candidates.

The three parties held a show of strength Wednesday and Sharif repeated his call for Musharraf to accept the people’s verdict and step down.

The PML-N’s top leadership announced earlier this week that the party will not seek berths in the federal cabinet as their members did not want to be administered oath of office by Musharraf, whose ouster has been listed as a priority by Sharif.

Under pressure from Pakistan’s new coalition to step down, Musharraf said his position is “strong” and will not resign, as his allies backed the President and challenged his political opponents to oust him.

Musharraf’s optimism about continuing in office came amid an assertion by a top US intelligence official that he faced the threat of being impeached although the two major coalition partners do not have the required numbers in Parliament.

Stating that Sharif had “an agenda to impeach President Musharraf”, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnel said the PPP and PML(N) “do not have the votes to do that(impeach), but if they had independents join them, they could possibly have the votes.”

Musharraf said he would continue to play his constitutional role as President, according to PML-Q sources. The delegation was led by former premier Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

Pervez Elahi, a close confidante of Musharraf, told reporter ” He(Musharraf) has been elected president for five years. He will remain president for five years.” “There is no such proposal. Neither is he considering it,” Elahi said when asked whether Musharraf is considering resigning.