Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Musharraf faces standoff after Sharif's deportation

FALLOUT The two-time former prime minister's party filed a new petition yesterday asking that the government allow him to make an immediate return


After the deportation of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf faced a new standoff with the nation's Supreme Court yesterday after the opposition launched a legal challenge.

Embattled US ally Musharraf had Sharif, the man he toppled in a 1999 coup, arrested on corruption charges and sent to Saudi Arabia just hours after he flew home from seven years in exile on Monday.

The move came despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled last month that Sharif had an "inalienable right" to come home and that the government should not block his return in any way.

Pakistani lawyers boycotted court proceedings in most cities over the handling of Sharif's deportation, while the country's increasingly vocal press warned that the expulsion would deepen the country's chaos.

Musharraf has been embroiled in crisis since his failed attempt to sack the chief justice of the Supreme Court earlier this year, a step that sparked mass protests in this nation of 160 million people.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party filed a petition with the Supreme Court yesterday asking it to order the government to allow the two-time prime minister to come back to the country immediately.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a bus stop in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, killing at least 11 people, including police officers, and wounding 15 others, police said.

The blast happened in Dera Ismail Khan, a remote town close to Pakistan's troubled tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, where there have been several attacks blamed on pro-Taliban militants.

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