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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 18:21 GMT
Pakistan leader denies 'interference'
SA Noorani (2nd R) of the MMA greets Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (R) of the PML-Q while other MMA leaders look on
Elected politicians are trying to set up a government
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has denied trying to influence the shape of a civilian government following the 10 October polls.


It was a chance meeting and nothing substantial was discussed

President Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf made his remarks before leaving Islamabad on an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

The row over the president's role erupted after it emerged that he had met a leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the country's main political parties are still deadlocked over the formation of the future government.

A meeting of all the prominent groups in the newly-elected parliament on Tuesday failed to agree a formula for the transfer of power.

'No role'

President Musharraf met Makhdoom Amin Fahim of the PPP at a hilltop restaurant near Islamabad on Sunday - but denied it was a pre-planned encounter.

President Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf denies meddling
Politicians from the other parties expressed concern that the man who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 was trying to engineer a coalition behind their backs, although he had promised to stay out of politics.

"It was a chance meeting and nothing substantial was discussed," General Musharraf said after arriving in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, he had offered similiar reassurances.

"The political process is on in the country and the government has no role in it," he said.

King makers

None of the parties won enough votes to be able to form a government on its own and all likely coalition partnerships demand major compromises which have foiled attempts to forge alliances.

Makhdoom Amin Fahim
Fahim: 'Chance' meeting with Musharraf
Neither the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), which won the most seats, nor the PPP, which emerged second, has announced the name of their prime ministerial candidate.

The six-party Islamist alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which opposed Islamabad's support for the US-led "war against terror", won an unprecedented 45 seats in the 272-seat assembly.

As the third largest group it has emerged as a key balancing force and is demanding the right to lead any coalition that is formed.

But the other parties are unlikely to agree and Tuesday's all-party meeting ended with a bland statement urging the government to convene the National Assembly without delay.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

25 Oct 02 | South Asia
24 Oct 02 | South Asia
16 Oct 02 | Business
10 Oct 02 | South Asia
09 Oct 02 | South Asia
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