Sharif wants Kayani to end ISI meddling in politics

Islamabad: Former premier Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani should take action to immediately end any meddling in politics by military institutions and intelligence agencies.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function near Islamabad, Sharif, who heads the main opposition PML-N party, said former military rulers like Pervez Musharraf too should be held accountable for their actions.

Responding to questions about a secret memorandum in which Pakistan`s government had purportedly sought US assistance to prevent a military takeover and the spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence`s alleged interference in politics, Sharif said: "It is General Kayani`s responsibility to stop military agencies that are getting involved in politics. Their role should be immediately ended or else he will be blamed along with others. I don`t think our military`s dignity should be affected," said Sharif, whose second term as premier was ended by a military coup in 1999.

"I don`t think our military should be blamed for meddling in politics. I expect this trend to be stopped under all circumstances. We have evidence that one political party is being fully supported by military agencies," Sharif said, without naming the party he was referring to.

Sharif said former President Musharraf should face trial for his actions. "Why is it that he cannot be tried because he was a general when (former Prime Minister) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was also tried," he said.The PML-N has always said that Pakistan`s honour, security and sovereignty should not be compromised but at the same time, there should be probes into incidents like the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, he said.

Pakistan-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz`s claim that he sent a memorandum through an intermediary to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen in May has shaken up the country`s political and diplomatic circles.

Pakistan`s Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, named by Ijaz as the official who asked him to draft the memo, has been called back to Islamabad to explain his position. Haqqani, who left Washington for Islamabad earlier today, has said he played no role in drafting or delivering the memo.

Sharif said people should not be made to wait for the reality behind the controversial memo. "The people want to know the truth and the result of any probe should be made public within a few days," he said.

The matter could be probed by a committee of parliamentarians or retired judges, Sharif suggested. "This issue will be settled one way or another. Such a big issue cannot go unnoticed or without being decided," he added.

If the government did not conduct an impartial inquiry, the PML-N will take up the matter in the Supreme Court, Sharif said.

He said problems like the interference of intelligence agencies in politics could have been tackled if President Asif Ali Zardari had implemented the Charter of Democracy signed by the PML-N and Pakistan People`s Party in 2006.