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Sharif, Pranab discuss Pak democracy

The Indian defence minister ran into Sharif at the Paris Hilton hotel, where both are staying, and reportedly had a brief meeting.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2006 20:28 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Visiting Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had a chance meeting here on Tuesday with former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who briefed him on the efforts to restore democracy in his country.

Mukherjee ran into Sharif in the Paris Hilton hotel, where both are staying, and the two reportedly had a brief meeting.

Sharif later told reporters at the hotel that the meeting gave him an opportunity to "renew the acquaintance" with Mukherjee, whom he had met on an earlier occasion.

The deposed Pakistani prime minister, who is living in exile, said he briefed Mukherjee about the movement to restore democracy in Pakistan.

Noting that he was "eager to travel to Delhi", Sharif said the Kashmir problem should be settled through dialogue as "force is not a solution".

Sharif also said India and Pakistan had been on the "right track" when he and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had initiated parleys but Gen Pervez Musharraf, who was then army chief, had queered the pitch by backing the intrusions in the Kargil region in 1999.

"The present government in Pakistan can't keep me away as I intend to return to lead the movement to restore democracy," he said.

The mainstream political parties in Pakistan had signed a charter for restoration of democracy and this had been well received in India, he said.

Referring to the recent death of Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, he said it was a "targeted killing" as army helicopters were used in the operation.

First Published: Sep 05, 2006 20:28 IST