The chances of a quick return to Pakistan of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have been dimmed as a court ruled that cases of alleged corruption against the former Prime Minister may be re-opened. The cases were closed at the government's request and Sharif was sent into exile in December 2000.
President Pervez Musharraf has also warned that if Sharif chose to return to Pakistan, the grounds forming the very basis of the pact under which he was awarded pardon, would be revoked.
"I have no fears of any kind from any quarters. I will not take any dictation in this regard from any quarters, including the West,"
quoted the President as saying on Saturday.
"(The) Sharif family left the country by striking a deal with the government and the document had the signatures of all members of the Sharif family. And we will present the document anywhere and anytime we deem necessary," Musharraf claimed.
Sharif said this week that the government's request to reopen the cases was an attempt to prevent him from returning to Pakistan. He has filed a petition in the Supreme Court pleading for his right to return.
Attorney-General Malik Abdul Qayum, who represents the government, told the Supreme Court in a recent hearing that Nawaz Sharif had left the country for 10 years under a deal reached between him and the government, with the Saudi government as the guarantor. The government is expected to produce the documents of the deal on Monday before the Supreme Court.
Legal experts believe the government has moved to reopen the corruption cases in anticipation of a Supreme Court verdict that may allow him to return.
At the same time, a special anti-terrorism court convicted Sharif on charges of hijacking and terrorism and passed a sentence of life imprisonment. The ousted premier was charged with endangering the lives of Gen Musharraf and nearly 200 passengers on a commercial flight.