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'Sharif won't be allowed to return to Pak'

Musharraf says exiled former PM Nawaz Sharif would not be allowed to return to Pakistan to take part in the general elections.

world Updated: Aug 26, 2007 14:32 IST

Refusing to abide by the recent Supreme Court judgement, President Pervez Musharraf has said that exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would not be allowed to return to Pakistan to take part in the general elections slated for later this year.

"The government will neither allow the Sharif brothers to come back nor would they be given a free hand if they chose to return. If Nawaz Sharif is not honouring his 'exile' deal, the government will put him behind bars or send him back to Saudi Arabia," The News quoted Musharraf as saying in Islamabad.

Considering petitions filed by the deposed Premier and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the apex court had ruled on Thursday that they were free to return to the Islamic nation after seven years in "forced" exile.

Musharraf on Saturday held an emergency meeting of the ruling party MPs at the Presidency in Islamabad amid reports that Sharif might return home possibly by next month to lead Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's campaign in the general polls in Pakistan.

The President told the elected representatives that the government would raise the issue of Sharif brothers' return in violation of the agreement with Saudi Arabia. "The Sharifs are bound to abide by the 'exile' agreement and the Saudi government will be approached in this connection." Sharif, who was ousted in a military coup in 1999, has denied entering into any deal with the government, which required his family members to stay out of the country for at least ten years. But, the government insists that he had signed the 'exile' pact in exchange for a presidential pardon.

However, Musharraf told the ruling party heavyweights that self-exiled former Premier Benazir would only be allowed to return to the country after general elections. "There's no possibility of her return before the polls."