Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif who paved the way for another martial law due to his misplaced adventurism with the military in 1999, will be free to take part in active politics in next 11 days. It is widely believed that he secured freedom from jail through an agreement to stay away from politics for ten years to be able to leave, lock stock and barrel,  the country, the party and people of Pakistan. The period of ten years will expire in early next month. During this period of ten years, he tried to defy the agreement and land back in the country on a popular wave of sympathy with the judiciary but was forced out of the country again, of course with the support of a more powerful party to the agreement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In return for his undertaking to stay away from active politics, all criminal charges against him were dropped by Musharraf government. And the country is agog with speculation as to what steps the PML-N strongman will take once his commitment is over.

Sources said the pact will end on December 2. It was following this pact in 2000 that former President Pervez Musharraf dropped the charges leveled against the PML-N chief and allowed him and his family to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. Musharraf had seized power in a military coup in October 1999 by ousting the government headed by Sharif. Though Sharif and the PML-N have denied the existence of such an agreement, sources said that the PML-N chief’s taking a backseat in recent years were indications that he was influenced by the commitment he had made to the Saudis. Sharif returned to Pakistan in late 2007, when Musharraf’s regime began losing its grip on power.

Sharif chose not to contest the 2008 general election and subsequently withdrew his nomination papers for by-polls to a parliamentary seat in Lahore this year. The sources said this was a clear indication of his “commitment to the pledge he made to the Saudis”. Once the agreement expires next month, the two-time former premier will be eligible to take part in elections, they said. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party has been criticizing Sharif for “deliberately” not taking part in the electoral process.

As the expiry of the agreement is nearing, Nawaz Sharif started talking tough and seems all set to put up a real stiff opposition to Zardari government whom he accuses of corruption and risk to democracy. On the other hand, President Musharraf has accused that Nawaz Sharif elections were funded by OBL. The most interesting statement came from US envoy Holbrook who expressed his frustration about possible Musharraf comeback by saying that he has no chance in Pakistan politics. No doubt, he will not win unless cleared by the establishment which, in Pakistan’s case, is now the US State Department’s South Asia desk.

Please also read:

Osama funded Nawaz for polls: Musharraf (The Nation)

Holbrook dismisses chances of Musharraf comeback (Daily Time)