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DateLine Sunday, 30 September 2007

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Sharif seeks return to Pakistan

LONDON, Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will make another attempt to return to Pakistan from exile around October 18, even if he risks expulsion again, his brother said in a television interview.

Shahbaz Sharif, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), told Al-Jazeera television's English-language service on Friday that his brother is "going to return very soon after the month of Ramadan."

The Muslim fasting month began in mid-September.

He added that Sharif, who was deported to Saudi Arabia on September 10 hours after returning to Pakistan on a flight from his recent home in London, might return on, before or after October 18.

He dismissed a suggestion from interviewer David Frost that Sharif would fly back with Benazir Bhutto, another former Pakistani prime minister who has announced plans to return from exile in Dubai and London on October 18.

"I wish that were to be the case...," he said.

Though they had once worked together for a return to democracy in Pakistan, he said that Bhutto later "took the other route to negotiate with this dictatorial regime," which Sharif opposes.

Shahbaz Sharif also expected President Pervez Musharraf to expel his brother once again if he returns.

"I cannot say how he'll deal with that situation but left to him he will bundle him out again, most definitely," he said, adding that Musharraf is a military dictator opposed to democratic political activity.

When pressed again on the date of October 18, Shahbaz Sharif said: "Well, there is a possibility that he could arrive around that date, or earlier, or a little later, but he will be arriving back very soon."

Musharraf overthrew Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999. Sharif went first into exile in Saudi Arabia before settling in London.

Shahbaz also alleged that Musharref had bullied Pakistan's Supreme Court into ruling Friday that he can run in presidential polls next week while keeping his role as army chief, dealing a major blow to the opposition.

(AFP)

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