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Sharif: No going back on going back
He will be sent out: Minister
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

In a dramatic development amid desperate attempts by General Musharraf to block the return of Nawaz Sharif, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, special emissary of Saudi monarch Abdullah, on Saturday met Musharraf and then urged Sharif to shelve plans for his comeback.

However, Mr Sharif has turned down an urgent Saudi appeal made by King Abdullah’s emissary here after intense diplomatic activity.

“I am coming,” he said while reading out a written statement at a news conference in London telecast live by Pakistani private TV channels on Saturday while disclosing that he was bound by an agreement brokered by Lebanese politician Saad Harriri to live in exile for five and not ten years. “I have, instead, spent seven years.”

Nawaz revealed for the first time the details of the agreement which won him freedom from jail on December 10, 2000.

However, railways minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said Sharif would be detained after his arrival and “deported” to either Britain or Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, the Prince waved the agreement, reportedly signed by Sharif and the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and said Sharif was committed to stay in exile for 10 years and should honour his undertaking.

The chairman of the Sharif faction of the PML-N, Raja Zafrul Haq, regretted that Musharraf had taken help from the Saudi government in a last-ditch effort to stop Sharif, but reiterated that Sharif was determined to stick to his plans. He would land in Islamabad on September 10.

Talking to the media after the meeting, Prince Muqrin, said he had conveyed the message of King Abdullah to Musharraf that he hoped Sharif would keep his word.

Lebanese politician Saad Al Hariri, who played a role in 2000 to broker a deal for his release, was also present. Hariri also held meetings with Sharif in London earlier this week but failed to deter him. PMl-N sources said Sharif could succumb to the pressure at this late stage only at the cost of his political demise.

Muqrin made it clear that the king was only concerned about the security, stability and welfare of Pakistan and wished reconciliation among political forces.

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Bookies’ call: He won’t return

“Nawaz Sharif is not returning to Pakistan,” according to bets offered by bookies. The rate given by bookies in the gambling market was 1:10 — 1 for the return of Nawaz Sharif and 10 for not returning. Farooq Cheema, an expert on the gambling market in Karachi, said according to speculation of bookies there are 10 per cent chances of Sharifs return, while 90 per cent chances are that he would not get back. — PTI

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Mush-Bhutto deal off: Minister

The much-touted power-sharing deal between Pervez Musharraf and former Premier Benazir Bhutto has collapsed over her demand that Prime Ministers must be allowed a third term, a minister considered close to the General has said. “It is finished. The President said ‘no’. If you insist, there are very thin chances of salvaging it, just 1 or 2 per cent,” railways minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad was quoted by “Dawn” on Saturday as saying. — PTI

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