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Exiled Pakistani Prime Minister Pledges to Return Home


Exiled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says he will return to Pakistan soon and contest in the country's upcoming presidential election in an effort to oust President Pervez Musharraf.

Mr. Sharif spoke to reporters in London Thursday, following a Pakistani Supreme Court ruling that overturned his forced exile.

The court ruled that Mr. Sharif and his family had an "inalienable right to return and remain in the country as citizens of Pakistan." The court also warned authorities not to obstruct his return.

Pakistani government lawyers say the former prime minister could still face the jail term he avoided by accepting exile.

Mr. Sharif was arrested and sentenced to life in prison on several charges, after General Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup. He was exiled after signing a pledge not return to Pakistan in 10 years.

In response to the court's ruling, a White House spokesman said the United States would like to see free and fair elections in Pakistan and urged all parties to work together.

Another former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, also plans to challenge General Musharraf in the elections.

Ms. Bhutto, who also lives in exile, has been discussing a possible power-sharing deal with General Musharraf. She has demanded the president give up his post as army chief if he wants an agreement with the opposition.

Ms. Bhutto served twice as prime minister before leaving Pakistan in the 1990s amid corruption charges.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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