Musharraf is too weak to withstand Saudi pressure over Sharif: Article

November 27th, 2007 - 4:09 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, Nov 27 (ANI): Pakistan President General Pervez Musharrafs political standing has plummeted since the imposition of emergency in the country on November 3, and the prevailing situation made him too weak to withstand the Saudi pressure over the return of Nawaz Sharif, according to an analysis.

An article by Zahid Hussain, published in the Times, said the return of Sharif from exile demonstrated just how weak Musharraf has become in the past two months.

Hussain writes that in September, Sharif arrived in the country and was immediately arrested and deported to Saudi Arabia. But this time, Musharraf felt he had no option other that accepting the Saudi pressure and allow his archrival to stay in Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto, another exiled former leader, also returned to the country last month to leave him facing direct challenges to his power from two ex-prime ministers, the article says, adding that as Musharraf was too weak to block Bhuttos return, it was inevitable that she would be followed by Sharif.

Hussain says that the Saudi Royal Family was willing to take Sharif back in September as a favour to both the former premier and Islamabad. But, as soon as they witnessed Bhuttos return from a self-exile, they began to lobby for Sharifs return in the strongest possible terms.

The article says that the Saudi Royal Family has significant influence in Pakistan.

Shared religious beliefs mean that the Saudi King is popularly known as the Keeper of Holy Places in the troubled country and there are deep-rooted political and economic links between the nations, it adds.

Pointing out that in 1998 Washington imposed sanctions on Pakistan for nuclear testing, and at that time the Saudis gave the Sharif Government substantial aid, the article says this strong relationship between the Saudis and Sharif has continued. President Musharraf is no longer in a position to block the lobbying for his return, he writes.

Hussain raises doubts over whether Sharif will be allowed to contest the forthcoming elections.

In the aftermath of the military coup, he (Sharif) was sentenced to life in prison for a variety of offences and convicted criminals are barred from taking part in Pakistani elections, the article points out.
Legal wrangles will continue over his right to stand for office, but one thing is certain there is no chance of any compromise or reconciliation between the two men. It is all out war, Hussain concludes. (ANI)

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