Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
The Pakistan Information and Broadcasting Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, told reporters here that the family members of Mr. Sharif had agreed to return to Saudi Arabia. "I think they would catch the plane to Riyadh either today or tomorrow,'' he claimed.
There has been a drama of sorts outside the Model Town residence of the Sharif family with the police laying "siege" in a bid to persuade the family members to "honour their word" and return to Saudi Arabia as promised. The family lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition accusing the Government of kidnapping the Sharif kin and trying to deport them forcibly.
On Monday, the Punjab Government told the court that the family members were not in its custody. The court had adjourned the case today after appointing a bailiff to locate the missing family members. The petitioner was absent when the court began hearing of the petition this morning.
Indications are that the Sharif family and the Government have sorted out the matter and the former have agreed to leave Pakistan. The episode once again demonstrates the determination of the President, Pervez Musharraf, not to allow return of the two former Prime Ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan.
Ironically, the petitioner Ashtar Ausaf Ali arrived in court soon after dismissal of the petition. He told the court that he was engaged in another court. The court, however, directed him to file another petition as the earlier was already dismissed.
Indications from Lahore are that the Punjab police have taken into custody wife and daughter of the former Punjab Chief Minister, Shabaz Sharif, and shifted them to an undisclosed location for possible deportation.
The case of the Government was that Mr. Nawaz Sharif and his clan had entered in to a deal with the Pervez Musharraf Government in December 2000 and went to Saudi Arabia on exile. The deal involved exoneration of all charges against the former Prime Minister. According to the Government, under the pact he or his family members could neither return to Pakistan nor dabble in Pakistani politics for 10 years.
However, the Government disputes the version.
A few female members of the Nawaz family were allowed to return to Pakistan after they gave a representation that their presence was essential for family and social functions.The Interior Minister, Faisal Saleh Hayat, said the family has overstayed and would have to return. In fact, tickets for their return were handed over on Saturday. However, they suddenly disappeared and there was much drama outside the Nawaz villa in Lahore.
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