Sharif Joins Pakistan Fray

Musharraf's bitterest rival files for elections, vows to boycott unless emergency rule is lifted
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2007 6:11 AM CST
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, top left, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, stand atop of a car as they shake hands with their supporters at Lahore airport in Pakistan on Sunday, Nov. 25,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned to Pakistan yesterday after 8 years in exile, today filed papers to run in January's nationwide election, although he says he will boycott the vote unless President Pervez Musharraf lifts emergency rule, the BBC reports. Sharif—who was welcomed by throngs of supporters  chanting “Run, Musharraf, run! The lion has come!”—said he had come home to save the country from dictatorship.

Sharif's return ratchets up Pakistan's already tense political situation. The BBC says Musharraf hopes Sharif will dent support for Benazir Bhutto, who has also filed for three parliamentary seats. The New York Times says his return is more likely to further undermine Musharraf's waning support. Sharif, who made his mark as prime minister in part by defying the US to make Pakistan a nuclear power, was deposed by Musharraf in a 1999 coup.