11/26/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Sharif returns home, parliamentary race opens

After eight years in exile, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz group) is home, running for a seat in next parliamentary election scheduled for 8 January. He pledges no deal with Musharraf, talks with Benazir Bhutto.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif returned home on Sunday after eight years in exile vowing to contest the 8 January general elections.

He said however that all decisions regarding participation in the poll would be made on the basis of the All Parties Democratic Movement’s platform whose pre-conditions are the withdrawal of the 3 November emergency declaration and the release of opposition members jailed in recent days.

Meanwhile there is no end in sight to the government’s tough repression against independent-minded lawyers and attorneys and the free press. Although fewer in number, arbitrary arrests of opponents and demonstrators continue.

Nawaz Sharif also continues to demarcate himself from Benazir Bhutto, also a former prime minister and leader of the Pakistan People’s Party.

Mr Sharif said during his long years in exile he never had any contact with the current government whose legitimacy he does not accept. For him Musharraf is not the legitimate leader of the country.

Still he said he had been talking to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, “trying to find common ground” since both share a similar experience.

“We have both been interacting over the past few days, so let’s see what comes out of it,” he said.

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