In his first direct contact with the United States after being deposed in 1999, exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked Washington to stop supporting Pakistan's military in order to prevent future army coups in the country.
Sharif told a US Congressional delegation which met him in London recently that no civilian government in Pakistan will ever be able to have control over the army unless Pentagon stops supporting it.
It was because of Pentagon's support that military dictators got "certification of legitimacy" from the US, the former premier told the four-member bipartisan delegation.
"If Pentagon reviewed its policy, there would be no military intervention in the future," Dawn quoted a leader of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) as saying.
The same Congressioinal delegation arrived in Islamabad yesterday and met Musharraf.
This was the first contact by US lawmakers with Sharif during his life in exile over the past six years.
Three congressmen in the team were Democrats while the fourth was Republican. Sharif gave the Congressmen his assessment of the situation in Pakistan with some ideas to strengthen democracy.
He complained that the US was not playing the role it should to prevent military interventions. "We feel let down by the policy of President George W Bush, especially when he says that restoration of democracy is Pakistan's internal matter," the PML-N leader reportedly told the delegation.
Considerable time was devoted during the meeting to steps required to ensure free and fair elections.
PML-N leaders believe that US would send observers to monitor the general elections.