Pakistan

LONDON –  Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has claimed that he had to let Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif go as Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah had advised him to do so.

In an exclusive interview, Musharraf said that when he visited Saudi Arabia in 2000, King Abdullah advised him that a blood once spilled was never going to wash away.

“He gave me this advice. It was a good advice. And I had never wanted to spill any blood anyway,” he said. Musharraf added that King Abdullah had told him Nawaz Sharif was a personal friend.

To a question whether he wanted Nawaz to be hanged, the former military ruler said that he didn’t. “It never even occurred to me,” he said.

“I remember what King Abdullah said to me. He always thought of me as a younger brother, and he genuinely felt so. I had no plans to spill any blood anyway. I was never going to hang Nawaz. It couldn’t be done.

“So I told him that it was never on my mind. Then he [King Abdullah] said that [Nawaz] had been the head of Pakistan, and ‘he has developed relations with us, and when somebody develops relations with me, I owe some sincerity to him.’”

“It was later that (then) Lebanon President Rafique Hariri, who had become a very good friend of mine and had very close relations with King Abdullah as well, told me that the king was offended with me as I hadn’t fulfilled some request by him.”

The former president added that he then went to Saudi Arabia and asked King Abdullah what was the issue.

“Then he said the same things again, like a friend is a friend and things like that. Then he said very clearly that [Nawaz] could come to [Saudi Arabia] and I run my country,” he added.

He expressed that he did not face much difficulty in convincing his cabinet for allowing Nawaz to get off the hook.

“There were 14 members in my cabinet and they all listened to me”, said the former military ruler.