Pakistan ex-PM seeks to return

Nawaz Sharif's lawyer tells court he has right to stay in Pakistan and contest poll.

    Sharif was exiled to Saudi Arabia under a deal after
    Musharraf seized power in a coup in 2000 [AP]

    Forthcoming election
    A presidential vote, due by mid-October, is to be followed by year-end parliamentary elections, where the main opposition parties of Sharif and Bhutto hope to make gains.

    Your Views

    "Musharraf has spent most of his time being a vassal of Bush and he failed to gauge what exactly was going on within his country. He made enemies!"

    4justice, India


    Send us your views

    Musharraf and Bhutto are currently engaged in talks about a possible power-sharing deal that could help him gain a new five-year presidential term this autumn.
    Musharraf, who moved against Sharif after he tried to replace him as army chief, has vowed to prevent the exiled former leaders from returning.
    On Thursday, a lawyer for Sharif, argued before a Supreme Court bench that his client had an "undeniable, unqualified, fundamental right to remain in Pakistan and contest the forthcoming elections".
    Fakhruddin Ibrahim told government lawyers in the first hearing on a petition filed by Sharif and his brother: "You have no right to send someone abroad, to send someone into exile."
    Musharraf banished Sharif and his family to Saudi Arabia in December 2000, the year after Musharraf ousted Pakistan's last civilian-led government in a bloodless coup.
    Musharraf has said he let Sharif out of jail and allowed him to leave Pakistan under an arrangement whereby he would not return for at least 10 years.
    Contentious agreement
    On Wednesday, government lawyers gave the court a copy of what it said was the agreement signed by Sharif.
    But the document neither mentions Pakistan's government nor carries the signature of any Pakistani official - a point seized on by Sharif and his lawyers to contest its validity.
    "It has to be ignored," Ibrahim said.
    Two of the seven judges hearing Sharif's petition asked government lawyers not to describe the exile deal as an "agreement", but gave no clear indication of how they might rule.
    Government lawyers say they cannot prevent Sharif from returning but warn that he could face unspecified legal action when he reaches Pakistani soil.
    'Emergency' dispute
    Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from Islamabad on Thursday, said a remark by Ibrahim Sati, the government's lead lawyer, that Pakistan was still under emergency rule, imposed after the May 1998 nuclear tests, halted the court proceedings for at least 20 minutes.
    Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhury, the supreme court's chief justice who is on the bench hearing Sharif's appeal, asked the attorney-general to ask his superiors in the government if a state of emergency indeed existed.
    The attorney-general came back with the information that Pakistan was not under emergency rule at all.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.