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"ANP chief declined Kayani's offer to replace Zardari owing to lack of support"

December 2, 2010 - Peshawar

The Awami National Party (ANP) chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan, was offered the post of Pakistan president but he turned it down, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain has said, confirming a disclosure made in a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

"Asfandyar Wali Khan received the offer to become the president but he declined," The Dawn quoted Hussain, as saying, in reply to a question.

"Our party didn't have the support required for the post and we could not accept the offer," he added.

One of the cables released by WikiLeaks revealed that Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had suggested Asfandyar as a possible replacement for President Asif Ali Zardari.

"The ANP believed that the post of the president should be held by the party having the required number of seats in parliament," the minister maintained.

However, it was a matter of immense pride that a Pakhtun leader had been offered the job, he said, adding that Asfandyar consulted the party and it was decided to decline the offer.

A leaked cable said: "During Ambassador's fourth meeting in a week with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani on March 10 (2009), he again hinted that he might, however reluctantly, have to persuade President Zardari to resign if the situation sharply deteriorates. He mentioned Asfandyar Wali Khan as a possible replacement. This would not be a formal coup but would leave in place the PPP government, led by PM Gilani, thus avoiding elections that likely would bring Nawaz Sharif to power."

Meanwhile, the JUI-F refuted a startling revelation made in another cable that its chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, had sought America's help during a meeting with the then US envoy to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, to become prime minister.

"The JUI is an ideological party... We believe in parliamentary politics. We would never seek anybody's help, let alone that of the Americans, to enter the corridors of power through the backdoor," senior JUI-F leader Maulana Mohammad Amjad Khan said on phone from Lahore.

Maulana Fazl had neither held a secret meeting with the former US ambassador nor asked for her help to become the prime minister, he said, adding, "We don't do deals."


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