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'Osama a big supporter of Nawaz Sharif'

Benazir Bhutto had also accused the former Pakistani PM of taking money from Laden to oust her from power.
None | By Press Trust of India, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 27, 2006 03:11 AM IST

A top Pakistani politician has claimed that Osama bin Laden was willing to "buy parliamentarians" in 1990 to ensure Nawaz Sharif's election as Prime Minister, according to a media report.

Quoting an interview of Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and Jamaat-e-Islami, the 'Daily News' said "Osama was willing in 1990 to buy loyalties of parliamentarians to ensure Nawaz Sharif's election as Prime Minister."

"Laden had said that if there was a way to buy votes, he was willing to pay for them," the report said.

Qazi "revealed that he repeatedly met Osama and that the Al-Qaeda leader had visited him at Mansoora, the Jamaat headquarters in Lahore".

He said Osama was "a big supporter of Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and Nawaz Sharif" and was "also interested in a deal with the Jamaat", which Qazi had declined because he did not agree with Osama's "methods".

The report said following Qazi's interview, the Jamaat "has done some damage control ... Stating the meetings with Osama had taken place when he was based in Peshawar and was allowed to move freely in Pakistan as a fighter against the Soviet Union (in Afghanistan)".

The 'Daily News' said "the truth, however, is that the meetings related to the post-1988 period when the Pakistan People's Party came to power and was then toppled. The IJI, of which Jamaat-e-Islami was a part, came to power in 1990".

"This was facilitated, according to Air Marshal Asghar Khan's petition pending in the Pakistan Supreme Court, by the ISI which provided the election funds," the newspaper said adding Benazir Bhutto "too has accused Nawaz Sharif of taking money from Osama to oust her from power".

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