Sunday, November 25, 2007

Changes in Islamabad

Today's return from exile of Pakistan's last prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, marks the end of the dictatorship of President Pervez Musharraf, the army general who seized power in the nuclear-armed country in 1999. Sharif's peaceful return, a marked contrast to the violent return last month of another former prime minister living in exile, Benazir Bhutto, apparently means both that next month's parliamentary elections will be contested and that Musharraf's backers will be voted out. Barring another coup, of course. "I have come to save this country," Sharif said after landing in Lahore, according to the New York Times. Musharraf had ordered Sharif deported in September when he previously tried to return from exile in Saudi Arabia. The fact that Sharif has returned probably means that Musharraf has decided to give up power, despite the three-week old emergency declaration that allowed the general to fire the country's Supreme Court and get re-elected. Now, it looks like the only question left is where Musharraf will live in exile.

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