Exiled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he hopes to be back in Pakistan by mid-September, despite the risk of arrest upon returning to his homeland.
Sharif, who was ousted in a 1999 coup in which then army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power, said in a PBS interview taped in London over the weekend that leaders of his party recommended he return as early as possible.
"They say that I should return before the beginning of month of Ramadan... . I think it's about maybe two or three weeks away," he said in the interview aired on Monday.
Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled last week that Sharif, a two-time prime minister, should be allowed to return.
Sharif, who has vowed to oppose a bid by Musharraf for another term in office as president, said he does not fear the possibility that he could be arrested when he goes back to Pakistan.
"I am simply going back to my country, my homeland, after seven years absence. I think I have every right to go back. If the people want to receive me at the airport, why should Mr. Musharraf object to it," Sharif said. "What is he worried about?"
After he was overthrown, Sharif was sentenced to life in prison on graft and security charges. He was exiled in 2000.
Pakistan is facing the risk of instability and turmoil as Musharraf plans to seek another term as president while remaining army chief. His opponents vow to end military rule.
A Pakistani intelligence official said the government was keen to prevent Sharif's return before a presidential election but he could come back later.
Asked whether he would confront Musharraf, Sharif said: "There is no confrontation from my side." He also said he was not engaged in any back-channel talks that would allow him to return without interference.
Sharif warned that it would be a grave mistake for Musharraf to impose emergency rule to quiet opponents, adding that such a move could lead to "chaos in the country."
He also called on Benazir Bhutto, another former prime minister in exile, to abandon power-sharing negotiations with Musharraf. Sharif said the talks violated a charter of democracy the two former leaders signed almost a year and a half ago.
"I think her negotiations with Musharraf will only strengthen dictatorship in Pakistan and it will be serving no cause to democracy," Sharif said.
"I stick to those principles of the charter of democracy, because it very clearly says that there can be no parlays, no negotiations, and no deal with dictators, especially military rulers."
Last Mod: 28 Ağustos 2007, 13:35