09/10/2007, 00.00
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Former premier Sharif returns home, is arrested and expelled

After 7 years in exile following the 1999 state coup, he returns to Islamabad but only for few hours. Accused of corruption and embezzlement, Sharif is arrested and expelled probably to Saudi Arabia. Clashes between his supporters and the police in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Attok.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Just a few hours ago Pakistani police arrested the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had returned home after 7 years in exile.  Currently, the government is preparing orders to have him expelled, almost certainly to Saudi Arabia.

As soon as he landed in Islamabad airport, the security forces loyal to President Musharraf accused him of laundering money and corruption.  In the meantime, clashes between Sharif supporters and police officers are spreading to various cities.

Sharif, leader of Pakistan’s Muslim League, was returned to the post of prime minister before the State Coup of 1999, led by General Musharraf. Called home by a Supreme Court sentence, he confirmed his candidacy in upcoming presidential elections, due on October 15th.

On board the plane carrying him home, Shariff said: “I have a duty, I have a responsibility, I have a national obligation to fulfil at all costs and that is democracy”. Despite the fact that Islamabad airport had been closed to all traffic, the police had to tackle the thousands of people who had gathered to greet the politicians return.  Violent clashes soon broke out.

The same scene occurred in Rawalpindi and Attok: there the officers even shot in the air in attempts to disperse the protesters, who have accused them of brutality. Almost all of the Muslim League leaders have been arrested charged with “disturbing public peace”.


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