Exiled former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted from power by President Pervez Musharraf in a military coup eight years ago, has claimed that he is technically and Constitutionally still the prime minister of the country.
"The Constitution has been subverted by Musharraf. Technically, constitutionally, legally I think I am still the Prime Minister. And former President (Rafiq) Tarar is the President of the country," Sharif, who is currently in London, told Al-Jazeera TV in an interview.
"But then of course Musharaf took over the country by force. And he is still the president occupying that position unconstitutionally. It was an extra-constitutional act. He overthrew my government and forcibly became president of the country," he said.
Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, said he and former premier Benazir Bhutto wanted to return to Pakistan before the general elections, scheduled for later this year, in order to launch their campaigns.
He said if Musharraf bars the leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party, headed by Bhutto, and PML-N from participating in the polls, the general elections will have no sanctity.
Sharif said he believed that the forced absence of the popular leadership would amount to rigging of the polls, casting shadow over Musharraf's claims of holding fair and free elections.
He said he has not yet announced any date for his return, neither chalked out any plans.
On the Charter of Democracy he signed with Bhutto in which they pledged not to back any military regime, Sharif said he enjoyed excellent political harmony with the PPP leader and the parties signatory to the Charter were bound to follow the political code already decided.
He said any contact of the signatory parties with any dictator was forbidden in the Charter and that he was adhering to the document.
About the probability of forging an alliance with the PPP, Sharif said nothing had been envisaged so far in that context.
Both the parties had been contesting each other in the past. However, if the PML-N and PPP contest the next general elections independently, whichever party achieves majority would have the right to nominate the prime minister, he said.
About the War on Terror, he said US President George W Bush would have to take into confidence 160 million Pakistanis instead of banking on Musharraf alone. The menace needed to be tackled effectively with the participation of the people through their elected representatives.
Sharif was critical of Musharraf describing him a self-styled president who, he said, tried to give himself a legal cover through the Legal Framework Order under the 17th Constitutional amendment.
Musharraf had brought greater disaster to the country, Sharif alleged.