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All wash hands off Nawaz deportation

world Updated: Oct 28, 2007 14:33 IST

Pakistani politicians and officials have distanced themselves from the Sep 10 deportation of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on his return home, saying they were not responsible for the action.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi and the heads of the 13 agencies and departments involved in Sharif's deportation have, in affidavits filed in the Supreme Court, said they played no part in an alleged conspiracy to flout a court order permitting Sharif's return home.

Most of them say "unidentified characters" whisked Sharif away.

The Supreme Court will on Monday resume hearing a contempt plea filed by Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) against his deportation.

In his affidavit, Aziz "has prayed that his name may be struck off from the list of contemnors while the Punjab chief minister has also denied involvement and asked for the dismissal of the petition", The News reported on Sunday.

"The copies of these replies ... make very interesting disclosures indirectly pointing fingers at hidden characters as masterminds of the Sep 10 operation," the newspaper added.

For instance, the reply submitted by the Pakistani government through the interior secretary carries a statement of Syed Kalim Imam, additional director of immigration at Islamabad Airport, claiming his ministry played no role in the deportation and that "unidentified" people were involved.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lt Col (retd) Azhar Mahmud Qazi, who attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Sharif after he landed here but was unsuccessful, claims: "Someone else was handling the issue."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said that since Islamabad airport's control tower is operated by the Pakistan Air Force, it is PAF that is responsible for clearing and accepting flight plans and providing aerodrome control services at the airport.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) says the PIA aircraft used for deporting Sharif to Jeddah was chartered by the foreign office, which did not mention the name of the VVIP who was to be flown out.

According to PIA, it had charged the government over Rs 8 million ($130,000) for the charter flight.

Punjab Chief Minister Elahi has also said that he was not involved in any action in defiance of the Supreme Court order.

The chief secretary of Punjab, the home secretary and the deputy inspector general of police of Rawalpindi have stated that they had nothing to do inside the airport where Sharif arrived and was deported. They said they were only responsible for keeping law and order outside the airport.