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Wednesday, November 17, 1999 Published at 12:24 GMT


World: South Asia

MP says deposed Pakistani premier 'depressed'




Mohammed Sarwar MP: "Sharif very depressed"
Pakistan's deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told a British MP who visited him on Monday that he has been treated reasonably well while in detention, but is deeply concerned for his family's welfare.

Pakistan in crisis
Mohammed Sarwar, who became Britain's first Muslim MP in 1997, held talks with both the deposed premier and his successor, General Pervez Musharraf, during a recent visit to Pakistan.

Mr Sarwar said he held an hour of one-to-one talks with Mr Sharif at an agreed location on Monday.


[ image: Mr Sharif could be executed]
Mr Sharif could be executed
"He told me that he had been treated reasonably well during this detention."

The Labour MP said he was not sure if Mr Sharif was aware of the gravity of the situation he faced.

He said: "I think he is not aware of the seriousness of the charges and in his position anybody will be concerned about this.


The BBC's Bob Wylie: "The MP met Mr Sharif at an agreed location"
However, Mr Sarwar added: "He was extremely upset, very depressed and extremely concerned about his parents and he kept saying to me again and again 'what have I done wrong as a prime minister to deserve this fate?'."

Mr Sharif has been facing charges of conspiracy to murder and hijacking since the military staged a bloodless coup on 12 October. If found guilty, Mr Sharif could face the death penalty.

Trial pledge

However, Glasgow Govan MP Mr Sarwar says that following requests from a number of organisations to intervene he has received assurances Mr Sharif would be treated fairly.

He said: "Mr Musharraf has assured me that Nawaz Sharif, the deposed prime minister of Pakistan, will receive a fair trial under his government.

"And he has also confirmed to me that Nawaz Sharif will have access to his solicitors or anybody else who wants to meet him will be allowed to see him."


[ image: Mohammed Sarwar: Trial promise]
Mohammed Sarwar: Trial promise
Charges were filed against Mr Sharif and eight other men following an incident in which an aircraft carrying General Musharraf was refused permission to land in Karachi.

The aircraft landed after the army took control of the control tower, but fuel aboard the aircraft had run dangerously low. According to the charges against Mr Sharif there were only seven minutes of fuel remaining.

General Musharraf said the refusal to allow the aircraft to land endangered his life and those of the 200 passengers and crew on board the flight from Sri Lanka.

The incident happened as Mr Sharif tried to fire General Musharraf as army chief and replace him with a younger ally.

The men are also charged with lesser offences of assembling people to commit murder and physical endangerment.



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