Musharraf has degraded Pak: Nawaz Sharif
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Musharraf has degraded Pak: Nawaz Sharif

Sharif, who lives in exile, described the government of President Pervez Musharraf as a failed democracy.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 16:04 IST

Pakistan's former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, accused his successor of degrading Pakistan's name across the world.

Sharif, who lives in exile, described the government of President Pervez Musharraf as a failed democracy, saying Musharraf, whom he regards as a military dictator, "has to decide today whether Pakistan is going to be ruled by its people or by a few guards."

Sharif spoke to reporters via an interpreter on Sunday night after arriving in Britain to visit his sick son, Hassaan, 28, who is being treated in England for an undisclosed illness.

He declined to talk about his exile in Saudi Arabia and the corruption and terrorism charges facing him in his homeland.

Sharif said last year that he planned to return home, but gave no date and said he and his Pakistan Muslim League party will not cooperate with Musharraf.

About 800 excited supporters greeted Sharif when he arrived at London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday evening.

Many carried welcoming signs, banners and flowers and shouted, "Long live Nawaz Sharif."

Shortly before his arrival, scuffles broke out as the waiting area became overcrowded.

At a crowded news conference, Sharif condemned a January 13 US airstrike that killed at least 13 civilians along the Pakistani-Afghan frontier, where Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network are thought to be hiding.

Pakistan has been an important US ally in the Muslim world.

But officials in Islamabad have condemned the airstrikes, saying Washington failed to notify them of the attempt to take out an Al-Qaeda leader.

Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 that toppled Sharif, who went into exile the following year.

The Pakistani authorities are also seeking to try Benazir Bhutto, Sharif's predecessor as prime minister, for corruption.

She said Sunday she plans to return to her homeland from self-imposed exile before 2007 elections to help restore democracy.

Bhutto left Pakistan in April 1999, accusing Sharif of fabricating the corruption charges against her.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 10:44 IST