Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has stepped in to end the war of words between ruling PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and former premier Benazir Bhutto to shore up the fragile process for negotiating a power-sharing arrangement with the PPP chairperson.
Musharraf sent his close aide Tariq Aziz, the secretary of the National Security Council, to Lahore this week to meet Hussain but the PML-Q is unwilling to make concessions to Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party as it feels this may affect its prospects in the general election due to be held by mid-January.
Hussain, who described his meeting with Aziz as routine, told the
: "The PML will contest the coming election (against the PPP) and was ready to give a tough time to its rivals."
He said he wanted reconciliation talks with all parties, and not with just one party.
The newspaper quoted PML-Q sources as saying that the meeting was "more than routine" and that both sides had "stuck to their position on the issue of reconciliation with the PPP".
Aziz conveyed Musharraf's "annoyance" at Hussain's outbursts against Bhutto and insisted that talks with the PPP were part of a process of political reconciliation which the president wanted with all parties.
But Hussain said the negotiations "would damage" the PML-Q, the sources said.
Aziz, the sources said, failed to persuade Hussain to support the power-sharing talks with the PPP which Hussain believes could make the PML-Q "rudderless".