[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] ruled Thursday that former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] can return to the country, effectively ending the 10-year exile imposed after Sharif was deposed in a military coup led by current Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile]. In its order [text], the court wrote:
It is declared that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, under Article 15 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 have an inalienable right to enter and remain in country, as citizens of Pakistan. Their such return/entry into country shall not be restrained, hampered or obstructed by the Federal or Provincial Government Agencies, in any manner.The government argued that the former prime minister and his brother, Shahbaz, went into exile in exchange for the government dropping corruption charges against them, but Sharif has denied such a deal.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani high court ruled that prosecutors could reopen the corruption case against Sharif [JURIST report]. Legal observers have said that the move to reopen the case was a preemptive measure in case the court ruled that Sharif had the right to return to the country. If Sharif returns while the corruption case is pending, he could be arrested. Speaking after the court's ruling Thursday, Sharif said that he will return to Pakistan soon and will challenge Musharraf's bid for re-election later this year. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.