Nawaz Sharif To Return (Again!) to Pakistan
Nawaz Sharif, the exiled former prime minister of Pakistan, is likely to return to his own country from Saudi Arabia this Sunday. His political party followers are keeping their fingers crossed. On September 10 Sharif had made an abortive bid to enter Pakistan but was deported from the Islamabad airport itself.
But this time Sharif need not bother. Pakistan’s leading newspaper The Dawn reports that the former prime minister had an extended meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Friday. The meeting lasted a couple of hours, sources said. Nawaz Sharif was also invited to what many termed here as a ‘farewell dinner’ by the Saudi king for his Pakistani guest.
“According to the sources, Nawaz Sharif himself had sought the meeting so as to find out details of the discussions earlier during the week between President Gen Pervez Musharraf and the Saudi leadership.
“Riyadh has been abuzz with rumours that an ‘understanding’ was likely between Gen Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif after the (recent) president’s visit to the Saudi capital. Such speculations got credence after Prince Muqrim, the Saudi intelligence chief, and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal called on President Musharraf during his stay in Riyadh. The foreign minister has been meeting the former prime minister frequently since his arrival in Saudi Arabia on Sept 10.
“Furthermore, the ISI chief, who accompanied the president to Saudi Arabia, stayed back in Riyadh after Gen Musharraf’s entourage moved to Jeddah. Gen Nadeem Taj’s prolonged stay in the Saudi capital fuelled speculations that an understanding between the two leaders was on the cards. Sources said the ISI chief was again in Riyadh when Nawaz Sharif flew into the city on Friday.”
With Benazir Bhutto taking a strong stand against the emergency and the repressive measures by Musharraf, the arrival of Sharif from Saudi Arabia is expected to add quite a bit of spice to the drama going on in Pakistan.
Meanwhile violence continues in Pakistan. According to an AP report militants struck at the heart of Pakistan’s security establishment Saturday, killing up to 35 people in suicide attacks on a checkpoint outside army headquarters and a bus carrying intelligence agency employees, officials said.
“In the first attack, an explosive-laden car rammed a bus carrying employees from the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI. The other bomber hit an army checkpoint in another part of the city, said Mohammed Afzal, a local police official.”
A latest AFP news report says that Pakistan’s election commission confirmed Saturday that military ruler Pervez Musharraf won last month’s presidential election, giving him another five years in office. “We have informed the government of the results of the October 6 presidential election and the winning candidate is General Pervez Musharraf,” an election commission official said.
Now with his aim of becoming the President of Pakistan for another five years achieved, there is no reason why Musharraf should continue to don a General’s uniform, or continue with the emergency in his country. He would be dreaming that after manipulating to reach the high perch he can relax and watch the civilian drama unfold below. But now with Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif entering the political fray in all earnestness, would he be able to enjoy peaceful nights sleep, especially with these two seasoned players snapping at his heels?