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Sharif returns home from exile

The former prime minister says he is determined to rid Pakistan of dictatorship, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Nov 26, 2007 04:30 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

With a little help from his friends in Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan on Sunday evening. Despite the restrictions on rallies and processions, thousands turned out to welcome him back.

The former PM, who reached Lahore aboard a private Saudi Arabian airliner from Jeddah, touched down at 6.45 pm India time and declared he was back “to save Pakistan and save democracy”. He was accompanied by his brother Shahbaz Sharif, wife Kulsoom Nawaz and other relatives.

Tensions were less than during Sharif’s earlier attempt to return in September, when he had been detained at Islamabad airport and deported to Saudi Arabia. Lahore was awash in the green flags of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party.

Officials said Sharif had been allowed back into the country after reaching an “understanding” with President Pervez Musharraf. Sharif refused to comment on any such understanding.