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November 29, 2006

Row deepens after Abida, Fakhr join PPP

November 29, 2006

LONDON: It’s split wide open. Differences between former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have deepened following the entry into Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of suave political couple Abida Hussain and Fakhr Imam.

As opponents of Benazir, they were once strong allies of Nawaz. Nawaz did not hide his displeasure over the development during his Monday night rendezvous with Benazir, a top political source confirmed here Tuesday.

As if purported contacts between Benazir and Musharraf aides were not enough of a bother, the dramatic move by Abida and Fakhr appears likely to be the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back, said a close aide of Nawaz.

Insiders claim en mass resignations from the parliament in consort with the MMA assumed virtually a back seat to the dramatic development.

Nawaz is said to have questioned the real motive of BB regards the Charter of Democracy following reports of her alleged secret contacts with General Musharraf. How Nawaz reacted to the acceptance of Abida and Fakhr by Benazir could be gauged from the fact that even his spokesman, Nadir Chaudhry, could not hide his disappointment.

“No-one will be happy to see turncoats joining a main opposition party (PPP), which is part of a major political alliance, ARD, and whose leadership has signed a Charter of Democracy. But lets say, it’s an internal matter of the PPP,” said Chaudhry, when contacted by The News.

Sources privy to these developments claim Nawaz is annoyed by Benazir’s decision to let “turncoats” return to her party as he thinks it would give a negative message to the people of Pakistan and dent the credibility of opposition politicians, who have vowed not to accept anyone who sided with Musharraf after the military takeover of October 12, 1999. Sources said Nawaz was so cross that he cut short his meeting with Benazir.

“Nawaz conveyed to Benazir in very clear terms at the dinner table that by

accepting politicians, who have been part of “General Musharraf’s League”, she was undermining the spirit of Charter of Democracy,” sources revealed.

Nawaz also told the PPP chairperson that many politicians wanted to join his party but he did not accept them as he was committed to the ideology of not accepting “turncoats”. Sources said Nawaz was at a loss to understand why Benazir accepted Fakhr and Abida, “who welcomed the military government after the 1999 coup and then contested elections from PML-Q only to be disillusioned after they were refused a share of the pie”.

He then reminded Benazir of their agreement in principle not to accept any “turncoat” in their parties at any cost. Sources said Benazir explained to an aggrieved Nawaz that actually the political couple had ditched PML-Q and not the PML-N, so there was no breach of the Charter of Democracy. Nawaz reportedly rejected the explanation. Sources said after the hard talk, many other important issues were left to Raza Rabbani and Shah Mahmood Qureshi to discuss with PML-N leadership.

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