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Pakistan: Defiant Sharif to Return Home
ISLAMABAD — Nawaz Sharif is resolved to return home as planned on Monday, September 10, under a verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan despite fervent pleas from Saudi Arabia on the former prime minister to scrap the plan, a spokesman for Sharif's party said Saturday.
"We have great respect for our brotherly country (Saudi Arabia), but the future of Pakistani politics has to be defined and decided by the 160 million people of Pakistan," Ahsan Iqbal, the Secretary Information of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party, told IslamOnline.net.
He said Sharif's decision to return home is irreversible no matter what the repercussions will be.
"The military regime (of Pervez Musharraf) has become panicky, and is making desperate attempts (to clinch to power). But their time is over now. Pakistanis are looking for their beloved leader who will return to his home land at any cost," Iqbal said.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, both Saudi Intelligence Chief Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz and Lebanese Member of Parliament Saad Hariri, urged Sharif to honor the deal that sent him into exile seven years ago and scrap plans to return home before 2010.
"Nawaz Sharif must honor his commitment," Hariri told reporters after a meeting with President Musharraf. "Such (an) agreement was made to facilitate and ensure the stability of Pakistan."
"For the sake of the national interest of Pakistan we hope that he will honor and adhere to the terms of the agreement," the Saudi intelligence chief added.
Hariri, whose father late premier Rafiq Hariri was involved in the Saudi-brokered 2000 exile deal, arrived in Islamabad early Saturday following a London meeting with Sharif, who was toppled in Musharraf's 1999 military coup and plans to return to Pakistan on Monday, September 10.
Sharif was sentenced to life in prison on tax evasion and treason charges but released in December 2000 on condition that he and his family live in exile in Saudi Arabia for 10 years.
When asked what are the details of the agreement, the Saudi intelligence chief said: "He knows it, President Pervez Musharraf knows it and most of the people of Pakistan know it…it is here and signed."