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Asif offers apology

August 26, 2008

ISLAMABAD: PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, in a surprise move on Monday, admitted to have made mistakes, extended an apology and appealed to Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif to rejoin the coalition government for the sake of the country and democracy.

“I seek apology from Mian Nawaz Sharif Sahab. I admit his (Mr Sharif’s) feelings have been hurt,” Mr Zardari said in a brief address on the state-run television hours after the announcement of PML-N chief to quit the ruling coalition.

Mr Zardari, however, made it clear that he was not willing to immediately reinstate deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

“As far as judges’ issue is concerned, Mian Sahab has himself said in his news conference that 10 judges were ready to be reinstated. Let them be reinstated and reinstatement of the chief justice will also come (eventually),” Mr Zardari said, adding that he could only say that all deposed judges would be restored “very soon”.

He asked Mr Sharif to rethink his decision and said: “We are still hopeful that he (Mr Sharif) will accompany us in the democratic journey.”

Mr Zardari admitted that he had signed “political understandings” with Mr Sharif, but asked the PML-N chief to realise the difficult situation they had come across after the resignation of President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Without explaining, he said they had taken the help of “some friends within and outside the country in the ouster of President Musharraf”.

On Saturday, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had disclosed that Asif Zardari had told him that some forces, who had played an important role in the resignation of President Musharraf, did not want immediate restoration of all the deposed judges, including chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Mr Zardari said the PPP wanted support of Mr Sharif in its bid to strengthen democratic institutions. “I want to take along Nawaz Sharif as there are immense difficulties ahead. Perhaps I cannot tell the whole truth to the nation,” he said, inviting Mr Sharif to join hands to “build a new Pakistan”. He said the PPP would not create any difficulties for the PML-N in Punjab and expressed the hope that they would also return with the same gesture.