Shahbaz Sharif returning ahead of Nawaz and Benazir
May 21, 2007 - 9:45:49 AM

Islamabad, May 21 - Former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif will return to Pakistan 'in the next two months', ahead of exiled elder brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and another former premier Benazir Bhutto, in time for the elections.

Shahbaz, who had been deported once when he tried to return, would do the 'dry run' for Pakistan's exiled opposition leaders who are defying President Pervez Musharraf, media reports said Monday.

'In the present political situation when all opposition parties and lawyers' organisations are protesting for the judiciary and restoration of democracy in Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif can lead the movement and unite the opposition on one platform,' Daily Times said quoting unnamed sources in Pakistan Muslim League - -.

It said Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, PML-N secretary general, had discussed Shahbaz's return with Nawaz following the violence in Karachi on May 12 over the removal of the country's top judge.

The opposition leaders are determined to return despite Musharraf's threat to detain them and put them on trial. Musharraf has in fact ruled out their return till after the elections.

In an interview published by the Sunday Telegraph in London, Bhutto said, 'No matter what, I'm going back this year.'

She said the corruption charges against her were part of a smear campaign. The report said she is gambling on the assumption that any moves by Musharraf to throw her in jail would backfire and hand a propaganda coup to her supporters.

She warned that Musharraf, whose rule is under increasing threat because of his controversial sacking of Pakistan's chief justice, was running a 'dictatorship' that could now end either peacefully or in all-out bloodshed.

'It is unlikely that the international community or the armed forces will continue to back the present regime if domestic protests continue to escalate. The only option for Gen Musharraf and his regime is to seek a political solution through a negotiated transfer of power,' she added.

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