Pervez rules out return of exiled leaders

Updated on May 18, 2007 04:23 PM IST
Pakistan president says that he would not allow former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to participate in upcoming elections.
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AP | By, Islamabad

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said he would not allow former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif _ his two main political rivals to return to Pakistan to take part in upcoming elections.

The announcement in remarks broadcast on Friday seems likely to deepen Pakistan's political crisis, in which the military leader faces accusations of authoritarianism as well as a growing challenge from Islamic extremists.Musharraf was asked during an interview with the private television channel about the aspiration of Bhutto and Sharif to return to lead their parties in parliamentary elections due at the end of the year.

"No, they cannot return before elections," Musharraf said in an excerpt shown before the screening of the full interview on late Friday.

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