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Sun 25 Nov 2007 02:41 AM

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Sharif heads for home

Former Pakistan premier returns in time to file nomination papers for country's January 8 election.

Sharif heads for home
Former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif on home ground in September, shortly before deportation to Saudi Arabia (Getty Images).

The exiled former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, is to return to his home country today, after his last attempt resulted in deportation to Saudi Arabia two months ago.

A government source said Sharif had reached an ‘understanding’ with officials ahead of his return to the country, and that president Musharraf had given his reluctant approval under pressure from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah during talks last week in Riyadh.

“He is returning under some understanding and we hope he sticks to it”, AFP reported the source as saying. “He must go by the rules and not indulge in confrontationalist politics.”

Sharif was due to meet King Abdullah on Friday to discuss his return plans. The king has reportedly provided a flight from Medina to Lahore for Sharif, his wife and fellow exile brother Shahbaz Sharif, scheduled to land between 4 and 5pm.

Sharif returns in time to file nomination papers for a January 8 election, in which Musharraf has said all parties will be given an equal chance to participate.

The former premier was exiled to Saudi Arabia in December 2000, allegedly promising to stay away from Pakistan for a decade under an agreement with Musharraf. He flew back to Pakistan on September 10, but was deported to Jeddah within hours of his arrival.