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Secret guarantor warns Sharif

Saad Hariri, son of the late Lebanese PM Rafiq Hariri, believed to have been the secret guarantors to the deal by which Nawaz Sharif was released from jail in 2000, has warned Sharif against returning to Pakistan, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Aug 28, 2007 02:41 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had an interesting visitor in the middle of August, according to local media reports. It was Saad Hariri, son of the late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Saad Hariri and his father are believed to have been the secret guarantors to the deal by which Nawaz Sharif was released from jail and allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia in 2000.

Hariri went to warn Sharif against returning to Pakistan before his ten year exile period, as agreed upon in the deal, ended.

The meeting was held before the Supreme Court announced its verdict in favour of the Sharif brothers.

Local reports said it took place at very short notice at Hariri's request, and Hariri in turn had been urged by General Musharraf himself to intervene.

When contacted by a local newspaper, Nadir Chaudhri, the official spokesman of Nawaz Sharif, confirmed the meeting. But Chaudhri refused to give any details.

It is believed the meeting took place in Scotland where Sharif had been holidaying with his family.

Sources said during the meeting, Hariri reiterated Musharraf's position, and conveyed the message that he should not go to Pakistan before completing his 10 years in exile. Nawaz did not give any definite reply, but said he was waiting for the Supreme Court's verdict.

Nawaz did not take the secret meeting with Saad too seriously, it is claimed, because before this meeting, he is said to have received a message from the Saudis. The Saudis reportedly informed Nawaz that this time they would not interfere in his affairs.

Local media said when General Musharraf rushed to meet Benazir Bhutto in Abu Dhabi on July 26 after the restoration of the chief justice of Pakistan to his former on July 20, he also went to meet King Abdullah in Jeddah to ask him to stop Nawaz from flying to Pakistan.

The Saudis did send a message to Sharif to stick to the old agreement but in a disinterested fashion.

They made it clear they were not interested in interfering further in Pakistan's internal issues. It was also reported that the Saudis told Musharraf how could they stop a Pakistani citizen from flying to his own country.

The sources said after this message, a confident Nawaz knew that the Saudis would not put him under pressure to stop him from flying to Pakistan, particularly when he had been allowed by the Supreme Court.