Musharraf: Sharif Exile Heralds New Political Era for Pakistan

Published December 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A new political culture, free of hatred, hostility and corruption will emerge in Pakistan following deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's exile, General Pervez Musharraf said Wednesday. 

In a nationally-televised address, the military ruler defended a decision to exile Sharif, one which led to criticism and accusations of a secret deal undermining national interests and sovereignty. 

"The idea to exile Nawaz Sharif came to me after the suggestion from the Crown Prince (Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz) of Saudi Arabia. In my opinion, this decision will mark the beginning of a new era in our national politics." 

Musharraf said the decision would help end politics of hatred, money and confrontation, witnessed during the reigns of Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, arch political foes who dominated the political scene for more than a decade. 

Contrary to "drawing room gossip," Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup last October, said he had not acted out of panic when he pardoned and exiled Sharif and his relatives. "I am never in panic. I am never afraid of anything except God. I have faced death many a time in my life." 

He admitted that his decision may have left some Pakistanis questioning their confidence in him, but he asked them to have faith. 

"Let me assure you, I shall never let you down," he said. 

Musharraf said his action showed that he had no "vindictiveness" towards the former Prime Minister. 

"Justice demands that punishment must be fair. Vindictiveness must be shunned. I kept all this in my mind." 

"This decision of exiling will usher in a new era of hate-free politics. It will usher in an era of the politics of reconciliation and money-free politics. It will bring in overall political harmony and contribute towards economic development." 

He said world leaders had lauded his "bold" decision based on "tolerance and moderation" -- ISLAMABAD (AFP)  




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