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Pakistan arrests thousands ahead of ex-PM return from exile

[JURIST] Pakistani security officials have detained more than 2,000 supporters of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] ahead of Sharif's return from exile, Sharif spokesperson Ahsan Iqbal said Sunday. Sharif, who has been living in exile after being deposed in a 1999 military coup led by current Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile], is expected to return to Pakistan [JURIST news archive] on Monday to challenge Musharraf's re-election bid. Pakistani security officials have also barricaded the Islamabad International Airport [official website] to prevent supporters from greeting Sharif, who may be detained upon arrival as the government recently reopened a corruption case [JURIST reports] again him.

In August, the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] ruled that Sharif had an "inalienable right to enter and remain in the country" [JURIST report] as a citizen of Pakistan, notwithstanding his earlier agreement to a 10-year exile with Musharraf's government to avoid charges. Musharraf has seen his popularity decline since he attempted a failed bid to remove Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive] from office in March for alleged judicial misconduct. Musharraf's critics have alleged that Chaudhry's attempted dismissal was an attempt to preemptively quash legal objections to Musharraf's re-election bid. Reuters has more.

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