Nawaz Sharif Deported - Musharraf Committed Contempt of Court
Pakistan Deports Musharraf's Opponent Nawaz Sharif
By Khalid Qayum and Khaleeq Ahmed: Bloomberg.com September 10, 2007
Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was exiled to Saudi Arabia after being arrested by police on his arrival at Islamabad International Airport.
Sharif, who had returned from exile to lead a campaign against President Pervez Musharraf, was ousted in a military coup by Musharraf in 1999. He was taken into custody on corruption charges three hours after landing in the capital from London, a government official, who requested anonymity, said by telephone. He was deported by plane about an hour later, the official said.
Supporters of the former premier clashed with police in the capital and nearby Rawalpindi, where officers fired tear gas to disperse crowds, GEO television showed. Two policemen were injured in a shootout with Sharif's followers in Attock, a city about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the capital, GEO said.
Under an agreement in 2000 between Sharif and Musharraf, the exiled politician was banned from returning for 10 years. Pakistan's Supreme Court last month ordered that the former premier and his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, must not be stopped from returning from exile.
``No Pakistani can be denied the right to return to Pakistan,'' Ayesha Tammy Huq, an independent legal counsel, said from Karachi, Pakistan. This is in ``direct confrontation with the Supreme Court,'' she said today in a telephone interview with Bloomberg television.
Sharif was detained on three corruption cases pending against him, the government official said by telephone today. He was given the option of going into exile or being arrested.
Challenge to Musharraf
The opposition leader is mounting a challenge to Musharraf, 64, who plans to run for a second-five year term in presidential elections before Oct. 15. Opposition to Musharraf's rule is at its strongest since he seized power almost eight years ago.
Sharif, 57, who was prime minister from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 to 1999, was convicted of corruption and treason and sentenced to 14 years in prison after the coup. Musharraf pardoned him in 2000 under the exile agreement in which Sharif went to Saudi Arabia. Sharif says he agreed to live in exile for five years.
Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, the chief of Saudi Arabia's intelligence, and Saad Hariri, son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, told a news conference in Rawalpindi on Sept. 8 that Sharif should abide by the 10-year agreement, according to a report in Dawn newspaper yesterday.
Rafiq Hariri, who was killed by a bomb in 2005, had mediated between Musharraf and Sharif on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government, according to the Dawn report. The Saudi prince said that his government would receive Sharif if he was deported by the Pakistan government.
Aryone World television showed footage of what it said was an official from the government's anti-corruption agency, the National Accountability Bureau, reading out the corruption charges to Sharif in the airport lounge.
The government deployed hundreds of soldiers at the airport and blocked roads to keep supporters of the former premier away, said Siddique-ul-Farooq, a spokesman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party.
Officials have arrested about 3,000 of Sharif's supporters in the past four days, he added.
To contact the reporters on this story: Khalid Qayum in Islamabad at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also See: AP Report
Dawn Report (published before Nawaz Sharif landed in Pakistan): Deportation Plan Ready
Legal position on Nawaz Deportation: Dawn