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Doubts over Oppn's anti-Musharraf alliance

The Opposition front planned by former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif against President Musharraf may be a non-starter.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 16:13 IST

The Opposition front planned by former Pakistan premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif against President Pervez Musharraf may be a non-starter after reports that the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chairperson had struck a secret deal with the government.

The Daily Times said Bhutto had arrived at an understanding with the government and postponed her planned meeting with archrival Sharif, chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Quoting unnamed sources, the newspaper said "certain powerful government authorities" were unhappy with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), the party that is perceived as Musharraf's future political platform.

They wanted to be rid of the PML-Q and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), a six-party religious alliance.

"These authorities contacted Benazir, asking her to sever her relations with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)," the newspaper said.

Sources said the government was "tilted" towards the PPP to weaken the PML-N, adding that Bhutto wanted to win the next general election with a heavy mandate.

The paper also noted that Sharif too, during a recent meeting with a high-level PPP delegation in London, had expressed concern over Bhutto's "secret deal" with the government and stressed that the PPP must declare its allegiance with the PML-N to launch a joint anti-government campaign.

However, according to some reports, the two former premiers are planning to meet in London May 22 to chalk out details of their opposition Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) front against Musharraf.

Reports said representatives of the two leaders had agreed to a "Charter of Democracy" to demand parliamentary polls under a "neutral" set-up, held by an "independent" election commission. It also stipulates that none in the opposition should speak directly to the government.