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Sharif asks Gulf states to help his family return to Pak

March 27, 2007 14:22 IST
Exiled former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has asked Gulf states to put pressure on President Pervez Musharraf to allow members of his family to return to the country before the next general elections.

Sharif made the request to diplomats of the Gulf states, the Daily Times reported.

The exiled ex-Prime Minister's brother, Shahbaz, former chief minister of Punjab province, is planning to return within two months and would like to land at Lahore Airport, the report said.

He had made efforts to return in 2006, but was sent back by the same plane after landing in Lahore.

Senior leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), headed by Sharif, decided at a meeting in London some days ago that retired Captain Muhammad Safdar, Nawaz's son-in-law, should return, and he should land at Peshawar Airport.

PML-N Secretary General Zaffar Iqbal Jhagra proposed the plan, believing that the "political situation in NWFP is comparatively better" than in Lahore and Karachi.

NWFP PML-N President Syed Sabir Ali Shah later told Shahbaz over the phone that the provincial party chapter and its leaders were ready to welcome Safdar at Peshawar Airport.

Safdar, speaking to Daily Times over the phone from Saudi Arabia, confirmed the plan. He did not give a date for his return, but said it would be "very soon", and in time to join the protests in Pakistan against the suspension of the chief justice.

"I am completely ready to face arrest and detention by the government of Pakistan, but will never leave my homeland again," Safdar said.

Meanwhile, Former Prime Minister and President of the Pakistan People's Party Benazir Bhutto has condemned the arrest of PPP and ARD leaders and workers across the country to stop them from protesting against what she called an assault on the independence of judiciary.

Scores of party leaders and activists were arrested in Rawalpindi, Multan, Lahore, Khanewal, Sahiwal and several other cities ahead of the ARD's call for holding protest

demonstrations at the divisional level against suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and for expressing solidarity with the lawyers' community.

Bhutto said the staging of peaceful demonstrations against the suspension of the chief justice was their democratic right and that the arrest of leaders and workers was condemnable.

She urged the judiciary to take suo moto notice of the arrests and to order the immediate release of all arrested.

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