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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK


World: South Asia

Mixed signals from Sharif's party

A Muslim League supporter is arrested by plain-clothes police

By South Asia Analyst Alastair Lawson

Two senior members of the Muslim League party of the deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have given their reaction to the army's seizure of power.

Pakistan in crisis
In interviews with the BBC Urdu Service, the deposed Religious Affairs Minister Raja Zafar-ul-Haq said that the military takeover had been a sad moment for Pakistan's democracy.

He called on the army to respect Pakistan's constitution and re-appoint Nawaz Sharif as prime minister.

Meanwhile the Muslim League Vice-President, Ejaz ul-Haq, said that he was trying to convene a meeting of the Muslim League in Pakistan to elect an alternative leader to Mr Sharif.

The Pakistan Muslim League has been quiet since the army seized power. Most senior ministers are being held under house arrest.

However Raja Zafar-ul-Haq is in London, and Ejaz ul-Haq is in Dubai.

Parliament

Raja Zafar-ul-Haq told the BBC that it was essential for the Pakistani Parliament to be reconvened to discuss the crisis.

He said the military takeover of his country had been a sad event that should never have happened, especially when relations between the government and military had up until recently been healthy.

The minister said that he was confident that the Pakistan Muslim League would remain united behind Mr Sharif, and would not make any compromises to the army.

However in an interview with the BBC shortly before his return to Pakistan from Dubai, Ejaz ul-Haq said that the party should elect a new leader who might be more acceptable to the military.

It is not clear whether his views are representative of the party. Ejaz ul-Haq is the son of the former Pakistani dictator, Zia ul-Haq, and has long had personal differences with Mr Sharif.



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