Sharif: U.S. should give up on Musharraf

Nov. 18, 2007 at 1:44 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says President Pervez Musharraf is solely responsible for the current unsettled state of Pakistan.

In an op-ed piece published Saturday in The Washington Post, Sharif urged the United States to support the country, not its ruler. He accused Musharraf of playing on fears of terrorism by posing as the only alternative to Islamist extremism.

"America should not alienate 160 million Pakistanis by supporting a dictator who prefers rifles to reason," he said.

Musharraf ousted Sharif in 1999 by a bloodless military coup. Sharif was forced into exile, and when he attempted to return to Pakistan this year, Musharraf deported him immediately to Saudi Arabia.

Sharif praised former U.S. President Bill Clinton for refusing to shake hands with Musharraf in 2000.

"People took that as a gesture from a friend who wished Pakistan well," he said. "By refusing to associate with a dictator, President Clinton essentially won the hearts of the Pakistani people."

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