Sir David Frost spoke to Nawaz Sharif
at his home in London
Sir David Frost: As the former prime minister of Pakistan I gather that constitutionally you are still the prime minister of Pakistan?

Nawaz Sharif: Well the constitution has been subverted by Mr Musharraf. Technically, constitutionally, legally I think I am still the prime minister. And the former president, Mr Tarar, is still the president of the country. 

But then of course, Mr Musharraf applied the might is right formula and he took over the country by force. And he is still the president occupying that position unconstitutionally. It was an extra constitutional step that he took - overthrew my government and then forcibly became the president of the country.

DF: You said somewhere that his [Pervez Musharraf] end is in sight as president. Do you think he will not be there very much longer?

NS: Things are so uncertain in Pakistan these days. You cannot predict anything. I have been two times prime minister of Pakistan. I do not know where the country is heading today. And the country does not have a constitution. Mr Musharraf introduced a 17th amendment, which is called the Legal Framework Order, to make himself the president of the country, and it has added to the confusion in the country. 

DF: I know you want to go back to Pakistan, to your homeland, and members of your party have said that you are going be back by June 30. But are you planning to go back by June the 30?

NS: No I have not given any dates. I have not made any such announcement. But I want to be back in Pakistan, it is my country. And if Musharraf says that he is going to hold free and fair elections, and if free and fair elections are to be held as the international community also wants to see free and fair elections in Pakistan, I think we need to go back to Pakistan. Musharraf should not prevent us from coming back to Pakistan. 

If he prevents me from coming back to Pakistan how will he be able to hold free and fair elections in the country? So, to hold free and fair elections in the country the two main leaders of the country have to be back in order to launch the campaigns of their respective parties.

DF: You mentioned Benazir Bhutto. What would you say is your relationship now after your agreements with her and so on? I mean do you regard each other as friends, allies, rivals, opponents or enemies?

NS: Well I think we have a very cordial relationship. We are certainly supporters of each others point of view. We are in one alliance. It is called the ARD, which is the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy. We have signed together a charter of democracy, which says that there will be no parleys with dictators, military dictators, which says that the constitution of 1973 will be rolled back, will be restored to the position of 12th October 1999; which says that we will strengthen the institutions like judiciary; which talks about good governance. And I stand by that charter of democracy and not having any parleys or any dialogue with the government at all. 

DF: If this alliance went ahead and you campaigned together, first of all for democracy but then an election, how would you decide out of the two of you if you won in a coalition who would be prime minister?

NS: We have not yet taken any decision about whether we want to contest the elections jointly, or whether we want to contest the elections independently. 

Previously we have been contesting against each other. Sometimes she won, sometimes we won.  So she has been two times prime minister and I have been two times prime minister of the country. So we have not really taken any decision on fighting the election on a joint platform. Nor there is any need for us to take that decision today. But if we fight elections independently obviously whosoever wins the elections, or whosoever has the upper hand, he will or she will form the government.

DF: What about one of the other problems, the situation of the Taliban. President Musharraf changed your policy on the Taliban. Is the situation in Afghanistan worrying to you or do you think the Taliban are going to get back into power again?

NS: I think a very effective battle can be fought against the fundamentalists or the extremists, whether they are in Afghanistan or whether they are anywhere else. That we take the nation into confidence, we take the parliament into confidence. 

The US must not support only one individual, Mr Musharraf, against as, against the 160 million people of Pakistan. It should support democracy and not dictatorship, because Musharraf alone cannot fight this battle. If this battle is to be fought by anybody it will be by this 160 million people of Pakistan. So therefore President Bush needs to understand this point of view. 

And President Bush, if he is preaching democracy in Afghanistan, if he is preaching democracy in Iraq, he must stop supporting a uniformed president in Pakistan. This is absolutely essential. So if an effective battle is to be put up against terrorism it has to be through the people of Pakistan.

This interview aired on 25 May 2007.


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