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Sharif to return to Pak on September 10

The former Pakistan PM announces his itinerary at a press meet in London, reports Vijay Dutt.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2007 00:17 IST

Come what may, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has stated that he will land in Islamabad on September 10.

Announcing his itinerary at a press conference in London on Thursday, Sharif said he and his brother Shahbaz would then proceed by road to Rawalpindi and from there to his home town, Lahore.

"Islamabad is the city where I was arrested and from which I was banished," he said. "And it is to Islamabad I will first return." Sharif had been arrested following the army coup led by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, and exiled from Pakistan in 2000.

"I was sent out of my own country handcuffed and bound to the seat of the aircraft," Sharif recalled.

Asked what he would do if he was arrested again on his arrival, as Pakistan's Attorney General Malik Abdul Qayoom has threatened, Sharif said, "I am not afraid. It is ultimately the people who will fight the dictator's regime. The fight will go on with or without me."

"Democracy will be restored in Pakistan again," he stated. "It is time for Musharraf to say goodbye to power and go back home."

On the reported 'deal' between Musharraf and Sharif's political rival Benazir Bhutto, Sharif was circumspect. "If there is a deal for personal gains, it would be a disloyalty to the people of this country," he said. He added that his problem was not just with Musharraf continuing to retain his position as army chief while remaining president. Bhutto has repeatedly insisted that Musharraf should shed his uniform if he wanted to be part of Pakistan's political process.

"It is not just a question of his uniform," said Sharif. "This is a man who has violated the Constitution, and ruled by the gun. I want to have nothing to do with the dictator and those who are ready to work with dictators."