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Pakistan on edge, awaits Nawaz Sharif

The former PM boards plane from London to fly into his nervous homeland, report Vijay Dutt & K Siddiqi.

world Updated: Sep 10, 2007 03:52 IST

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s departure from London for Islamabad on Sunday night had all the suspense and excitement of a gripping thriller.

Till barely an hour before he left, he was expected to travel by a Gulf Air flight from Heathrow on Sunday night, changing planes at Muscat, along with a 170-member delegation comprising family and party members, journalists and doctors.

<b1>However, though the bulk of the delegation did leave as scheduled, Sharif, his brother Shahbaz and key supporters caught a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight instead, which would fly directly to Islamabad.

In Pakistan, the government claimed to have made all “arrangements” for his arrival. “We have a policy in place for his arrival and he knows what it is,” said a cryptic Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad, railways minister.

“Words cannot describe the way I feel about going home again,” said Sharif in London. He added that there were no cases against him in Pakistan.

Islamabad airport has been cordoned off. Soldiers were seen laying barbed wires on roads.

First Published: Sep 10, 2007 00:51 IST