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Pakistan's Sharif to return home Sept. 10, brother says

Pakistan's Sharif to return home Sept. 10, brother says

The brother of Nawaz Sharif said Thursday the former Pakistani leader will return home from exile on Sept. 10 and challenge President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's plans to extend his rule.
Shahbaz Sharif confirmed the date before a news conference in London called to lay out the former prime minister's timetable for return after eight years in exile. Sharif left Pakistan shortly after being deposed by Musharraf in the 1999 coup.
"Yes, it is true," Shahbaz Sharif told The Associated Press when asked to confirm the date.
The planned announcement comes a day after Benazir Bhutto, another exiled former premier and Sharif's rival, said she was progressing toward an agreement with Musharraf that could see them share power.
Bhutto claimed Musharraf had agreed to step down as head of the army, ending military rule eight years after the general ousted Sharif in a bloodless coup.
The Supreme Court ruled last week that the conservative, secularist Sharif, who has been in exile since 2000, and his politician brother can return to Pakistan.
However, government officials have said that Sharif, who has denounced Musharraf as a dictator, could be re-arrested upon reaching Pakistani soil on charges dating to the 1999 coup.
Musharraf had vowed to prevent both Bhutto and Sharif from entering Pakistan again, blaming them for corruption and economic problems that nearly bankrupted the country in the 1990s, when each had two turns as prime minister.
With Musharraf's support collapsing, his allies have encouraged him to strike an alliance with Bhutto and her moderate Pakistan People's Party so he can be re-elected as a strong civilian president backed by a friendly parliament _ avoiding a repeat of the chaos of the 1990s when Sharif and Bhutto jostled for power.
But Sharif's return would throw Musharraf's re-election chances in doubt. His Muslim League-Qaid Party and its allies dominate all but one of the country's assemblies, making Sharif's election as prime minister very likely and opening the way for Sharif to challenge Musharraf's constitutional authority in the courts.
The animosity between Sharif and Bhutto was intense before the army's coup, but in exile they became allies in the fight to restore democracy. But their friendship ended when Bhutto entered talks with Musharraf.


Updated : 2021-09-22 02:27 GMT+08:00