US Sweats Sharif's Return

Former PM seen as allied with Islamists, soft on terror
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2007 2:36 PM CST
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meets with supporters at his home before leaving to register as a candidate for Pakistan's elections, in Lahore Monday Nov. 26, 2007. Sharif, fresh from a...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Even as Nawaz Sharif paints his return to Pakistan as a watershed moment, Washington is fretting over the implications of the Islamist-linked ex-PM's resurgence. Sharif has a reputation for being hostile to women’s rights and slow on social and economic expansion, the Wall Street Journal reports, but the US is more concerned about his perceived softness on terror.

Sharif's supporters point to his help in hunting Osama bin Laden during the Clinton years, but US officials counter by highlighting his attempt to institute Islamic penal codes. One US official says Sharif’s “agenda is to walk away from advances” in society. Nevertheless, one insider says, if he takes the reins again, "we'd probably have a working relationship."