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Pakistan high court considers challenge against ex-PM Sharif deportation

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] heard arguments Tuesday in a challenge against the September 10 deportation of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] to Saudi Arabia. Pakistani authorities arrested Sharif on corruption and money laundering charges [JURIST report] and then expelled him shortly after he arrived in the country on a flight from London despite the Supreme Court's earlier ruling in August that Sharif had an "inalienable right to enter and remain in the country" [JURIST report] as a citizen of Pakistan. Following the deportation, Sharif's lawyers appealed [JURIST report] the deportation and Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [official website] scheduled Tuesday's hearing to determine why Pakistani officials expelled Sharif. About 1,000 citizens gathered at the Supreme Court building to voice support for Sharif, who has remained outside Pakistan for the past seven years pursuant to a deal negotiated with then-coup leader and current president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile].

Sharif's deportation has sparked worldwide outrage, as well as public condemnation from several retired Supreme Court of Pakistan justices and accusations [HRW statement] from advocacy group Human Rights Watch that Musharraf has flouted international law. Sharif's supporters believe Musharraf deported Sharif because he was expected to run against the president in the October 6 election that ostensibly re-elected [JURIST report] Musharraf as president. The Supreme Court is also hearing arguments [JURIST report] regarding the disputed election and will likely issue a ruling on Friday. Two of Musharraf's opponents say Musharraf may have been ineligible to run for re-election while holding positions as both president and Army chief. Meanwhile, Musharraf has announced that he will step down from his military post if the Supreme Court makes the results official. The new presidential term is set to begin on November 15. AP has more.

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