'Musharraf snaps contacts with PPP' | world | Hindustan Times
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'Musharraf snaps contacts with PPP'

Pervez Musharraf snaps its informal talks with the ruling PPP following Asif Ali Zardari's stinging comments describing him as a relic of the past and an unelected and non-democratic president.

world Updated: May 23, 2008 14:41 IST

Pervez Musharraf has snapped its informal talks with the ruling PPP following its Chairman Asif Ali Zardari's stinging comments describing him as a "relic of the past" and an "unelected and non-democratic president", Pakistani TV news channels reported on Friday.

Taking "serious note" of Zardari's comments made during an interview with PTI, the president has directed his close aides not to hold any more talks with the PPP co-chairman's representatives, sources close to the presidency were quoted as saying by the channels.

There was, however, no official word from the president's office or the Pakistan People's Party on this.

During the indirect contacts between the presidency and the PPP, Musharraf's aides had made it very clear to the PPP that the president did not want the National Security Council abolished.

Musharraf's aides had also said during the parleys that the president was not ready to give up important constitutional powers, including his powers under Article 58(2b) of the constitution to dissolve the Parliament and dismiss the prime minister.

However, during his interview with PTI, Zardari described Musharraf as a "relic of the past" who was standing between the people of Pakistan and democracy.

He also made it clear that a package of constitutional reforms being framed by the PPP-led government would clip the president's sweeping powers, including those under Article 58.

Sources close to the presidency said Musharraf is expected to meet Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani within the next two days to share his "concerns about the prevailing political, constitutional and economic situation" in the country.

Musharraf has also summoned a meeting of his constitutional and legal experts at the presidency today to evolve a strategy to cope with the situation.

Sources close to the presidency also said Musharraf had no plans to back down as he was "legally elected by the national and provincial assemblies".

There were also reports that Zardari had directed his aides not to hold further meetings Musharraf's advisors.

There have been indirect contacts between the presidency and the PPP over the past few months with Musharraf's close aide Tariq Aziz, who is the Secretary of the National Security Council, playing a key role in the parleys.

In recent meetings, Musharraf's aides had clearly conveyed to the PPP that the president would not agree to any move to scrap Article 58 (2b) of the constitution.

Any constitutional amendment to do away with the powers under Article 58 (2b) would have to be passed with a two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament and would also require the assent of the president.