Nawaz thrice turns down Zardari invites

January 4th, 2009 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz SharifIslamabad, Jan 4 (IANS) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari desperately wants to meet his estranged ally Nawaz Sharif to mend fences but the former prime minister has rejected three invitations on this score, and his party says it is not interested in “photo sessions”.The invitations were sent through political and non-political emissaries last week.

Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had emerged the number one and two parties, respectively, after the February general elections and had come together in an uneasy coalition after hammering out the agenda for the government.

Under this, the Supreme Court judges former president Pervez Musharraf had sacked after imposing an emergency in Nov 2007 were to be reinstated and the 17th Amendment to the constitution the military dictator had effected was to be repealed.

Zardari reneged on both promises, leading to the PML-N withdrawing its ministers from the government. These portfolios, however, still remain vacant.

On its part, the PML-N, even though terming itself in the opposition, abstained on voting on the budget for fiscal 2008-09.

Quoting a PML-N leader, The News Sunday said the party “did not want any more photo sessions (with Zardari) and that any meeting between the top leadership of the two parties could only take place once the promises made to the nation were fulfilled, and a very clear agenda, including repealing the 17th Amendment, was formulated”.

After two aborted attempts, one through a former bureaucrat and the other through a rich builder, Zardari himself telephoned Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab, to urge the former prime minister to agree to a meeting - but this was also turned down.

“The PML-N leadership, however, insists on a result-oriented meeting whose agenda, including the restoration of the deposed judges, should be decided beforehand,” The News said.

“A senior PML-N leader was also of the view that even if such meetings were necessary, the messages should be conveyed through political channels and not through non-political players,” it added.

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