Monday, September 10, 2007
Fun while it lasted
Looks like it's the last call for the return of democracy to Pakistan. CNN reports today that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose administration was cut short by a bloodless coup led by current Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 1999, was taken into custody after he arrived in Islamabad today and was deported to Saudi Arabia, where he has lived in exile. Sharif returned to Pakistan after the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled last month that he could. He was expected to challenge Musharraf in upcoming elections. His departure, however, could clear the way for a power-sharing deal between Musharraf, called an important ally in the Bush administration's war on terror despite the likely presence of al-Qaida forces on its reportedly lawless border with Afghanistan, and two-time former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. But Musharraf, who also heads the country's armed forces, does not appear to be ready to give up power despite a loss of popularity following his attempt to have the head of Pakistan's Supreme Court sacked in March. The U.S. State Department issued a statement calling the deportation "contrary to the supreme court's decision" and urging non-violence.