'Nawaz went into exile to escape life sentence'

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Islamabad, Oct 5: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif went into exile on his own free will to escape life imprisonment.

Regarding the return of Mr Sharif, who was deposed by Gen Musharraf in a bloodless coup in 1999, the President said one can look into the possibility of the former premier coming back before the expiry of his agreement under which he went abroad.

''We have to go to the elections, want smooth transition in run upto the election and would like to have national consensus on the issues, if he can ensure these things we can move ahead. Our doors are open to anyone,'' he said.

About the ongoing talks with Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, the military ruler said the party has a role to play as it enjoys support at the grassroots level.

''In the national reconciliation, the PPP and Benazir has a role to play,'' he said. He, however, said there were lots of accusations against her which have not yet been proven.

He said national reconciliation, which is with all political parties and not individuals, will be a total package bringing more harmony into political scenario and ensure fair elections.

Gen Musharraf said it was possible that Benazir Bhutto will be a political ally but added he will not comment on it. He also denied comment on his meeting with Ms Bhutto.


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