'Zardari-Sharif alliance not good for Pakistan'

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Islamabad, Feb 20: Ahead of a crucial meeting between the two victorious Opposition leaders, President Pervez Musharraf's aides have reportedly urged Pakistan People's Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari not to join hands with Nawaz Sharif's PML-N to form a coalition and even discussed possible prime ministerial candidates from PPP.

Musharraf's aides met Zardari on Tuesday for discussions on the formation of the next government, their first contact since the February 18 general election, Dawn News channel reported on Wednesday. The PPP has emerged as the single largest party in Pakistan's general election by bagging 87 of the 268 National Assembly seats for which direct polls were held, followed by the PML-N with 66 seats. It is widely expected that they may form a coalition and Zardari and Sharif are scheduled to meet in Islamabad on Thursday for talks.

Musharraf's close aides, including National Security Council Secretary Tariq Aziz, met Zardari and urged him not to holds talks with the PML-N on forming a government at the centre, official sources told Dawn News.

Zardari was non-committal in this regard and sources close to the PPP co-chairman told Dawn News that he did not want to forge an alliance with the PML-Q, the party which backs Musharraf and was routed in the polls.

Musharraf's aides and Zardari also discussed the names of the PPP's prime ministerial candidates.

The government team favoured PPP vice-chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the president of the Punjab unit of the PPP, and senior party leader Yusuf Raza Gilani, the sources said.

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