Ex-premier Sharif lands in Pakistan

( AP ) - Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif landed in Pakistan Monday, returning from exile to lead a campaign to topple the country's U.S.-allied military ruler who ousted him in a military coup eight years ago.

Black-uniformed commandos entered the Pakistan International Airlines jetliner after it landed at Islamabad airport and surrounded Sharif, an Associated Press reporter on board said.

Sharif was refusing to hand over his passport to immigration officials who were also on the plane, the reporter said.

Before leaving London, Sharif warned that President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government might try to arrest or deport him. At the last minute, he asked his brother Shahbaz Sharif to remain in Britain so that he can lead the party in case anything happens to the former prime minister.

Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema had said Sharif "would be treated according to the law" on his arrival. He declined to elaborate.

Supporters on the flight chanted "Go, Musharraf, Go!" as Sharif's flight taxied on the runway.

Pakistan's Geo TV network reported that the arrivals lounge of the airport had been evacuated. Other networks reported that phone jammers were in operation at the airport.

The arrival of Sharif, whose elected government was ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 coup, is likely to sharpen political tensions ahead of presidential and legislative elections.

The looming showdown could further weaken Musharraf's faltering grip on power and comes as the country battles surging Islamic extremism that has spread from the Afghan border, where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding.

Around 200 supporters threw rocks at police preventing the crowd from reaching the airport, an AP reporter at the scene said. Officers fired off rounds of tear gas and hit people with batons. It was not immediately clear if anyone was seriously injured.

"We wanted to get to the airport to welcome the person who has challenged the dictator," said Asif Ali, one of the Sharif supporters. "We were tear-gassed and baton-charged."

In another clash on the main highway leading from the city to the airport, police beat and detained about 30 Sharif supporters, including his party spokesman, Ahsan Iqbal. They were bundled into a police pickup truck.

Former President Rafiq Tarar, a strong Sharif loyalist, said he was roughed up in that confrontation but not arrested. He declared the government was "anti-Pakistan." Witnesses said Tarar was later arrested.

After arriving in Islamabad, Sharif plans to travel in a motorcade to their home and political base in Lahore, about 180 miles to the south. The trip through Punjab province could take three days as he greets supporters along the way, Sharif's party said.More than 2,000 Sharif supporters in Punjab have been detained in a crackdown over the past four days, and others have gone into hiding, said Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for Sharif's party. Police and security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed about 700 arrests.

On Sunday evening, a mobile squad swooped down on three buses carrying suspected Sharif supporters. Armed officers mounted each bus and ordered the drivers to take the passengers away - apparently into custody.

Analysts say Sharif's return could crank up the pressure on Musharraf and upset talks on a power-sharing pact with his longtime rival Benazir Bhutto, another exiled former premier plotting a political comeback.

Musharraf wants to win a new five-year presidential term from lawmakers by mid-October, while both Sharif and Bhutto want to contest general elections due by mid-January 2008.

Musharraf, who has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid to help in the country's fight against al-Qaida, has seen his popularity shrink since his failed attempt to fire Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry earlier this year spurred calls for an end to military rule.

Bhutto says she also plans to return to Pakistan, regardless of the outcome of the talks. She is due to announce her return date on Sept. 14.

Turkey's exports to OIC countries on the rise
Turkey's exports to OIC countries on the rise
Kyrgyzstan introduces temporary ban on export of oil products
Kyrgyzstan introduces temporary ban on export of oil products
Kyrgyzstan eyes importing electricity from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan eyes importing electricity from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
Loading Bars
Latest
Swedish police investigating possible 'terror motives' in knife attack
WHO reports over 348,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Ukraine to receive 30 mln doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 2021: PM
Turkey’s export of chemical products up in early 2021
SpaceX’s Starship prototype explodes minutes after landing in Texas
Israel reports 4,173 new COVID-19 cases, 788,869 in total
EU shares new programs to be implemented in Georgia in 2021
UK reports 6,385 new COVID-19 cases, 315 deaths
Facebook to end ban on political ads in United States
Biden says it's a 'big mistake' for states to lift mask mandates
Covid protection measures vital due to unpredictability of its mutations — WHO
Africa's confirmed COVID-19 cases pass 3.91 mln
CoronaVac efficacy above 83% after Phase 3 trials in Turkey
Karaganda region to build mega sheep farm
Iran exports over 1.4mn tons of round bar in 10 months
Georgia reaches preliminary agreement with Novavax
Bitcoin rises by over 10% surpassing $52,000
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Romania
Czech Republic reports record breaking number of people hospitalized with COVID-19
WHO doesn’t recommend introducing Covid passports for now
Azerbaijan holds command training of troops of Nakhchivan garrison (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan reconstructs houses damaged during Second Karabakh War – Trend TV
Iran preparing for possible travel restrictions for Nowruz holiday
Iran's Health Minister expresses concern over spread of UK Coronavirus variant across country
Iran plans to release held up commodities from customs
Metallurgical production may increase in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's foreign trade balance with Israel remains positive in Jan. 2021
Venezuela always supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity - Ambassador
Azerbaijan, Pakistan discuss areas of military cooperation (VIDEO)
Bio-smart pavilion ready for integration with Smart City project network - Azerbaijan Innovation Agency
Georgia makes rapid progress on its commitments under Energy Community - Green for Growth Fund
Azerbaijani State Customs Committee develops new portal for visualizing customs statistics
'Uzbekistan GTL' plant receives fuel gas for first time
All deals with corporate securities in Azerbaijan fell on secondary market - BSE
Most transactions on state securities in Azerbaijan accounts for primary market
Azerbaijan plans to expand geography of wine export
U.S. private payrolls rise less than expected in February
Prosecutor's Office talks details of mine explosion accident in Aghdam
Loan portfolio of trade and services sector increases in Azerbaijan
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price starts to rise in Iran
Azerbaijan announces net foreign assets of commercial banks for January
Croatian 'green energy' companies could contribute to dev't of Azerbaijani liberated lands
President Aliyev receives in video format delegation led by Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan (PHOTO)
Next equipment from India will be brought to Iran’s Chabahar port
Silk Way Technics company has been keeping aircraft flying safely for 15 years
Turkmenistan has potential to benefit from future co-op with EU
Uzbek currency rates for March 4
Azerbaijani, Italian FMs discuss prospects for comprehensive development of relations
Iran plans to increase mushroom production and exports
Growth of trade turnover observed between Turkey and Uzbekistan
Azerbaijan's experience of implementing 'smart' projects to be presented in Belarus
PayPal in talks to buy Israeli co Curv
Kazakhstan expects recovery of business activity in 1Q2021
Chief of Azerbaijani Aghdam's Irrigation Department heavily injured in mine explosion (PHOTO)
OPEC+ considers oil output roll over for April
Azerbaijani police officers find air defense systems left by Armenians in Fuzuli (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Kazakhstan's Home Credit and Finance Bank may face additional asset quality pressure
Iran's exports to Turkmenistan via railways increase
Turkish revenues from export of defense-related products grow
Turkey increases steel exports to Azerbaijan since early 2021
Turkey plans to increase trade turnover volume with Georgia
Hungarian Globalia Kft to support solar park creation in Kazakhstan
Significant number of people receive unemployment benefits in Georgia
Turkey attaches importance to Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey trilateral format of co-op - FM
Uzbek-Chinese JV to buy gas piston power station via tender
Azerbaijan’s PASHA Bank to continue to improve digital products
Fruits and vegetables make up majority of Azerbaijan's export of non-oil products since early 2021
EU to promote local entrepreneurship in Georgian Adjara
Georgia's Batumi sees decrease in real estate transactions
Number of apartment transactions down in Georgia's Tbilisi - Colliers International
Major Azerbaijani state companies' revenues from non-oil products' export up in Jan.2021
Belarusian Belavia Airlines extends suspension of flights to Turkmenistan
Sales of Iranian mining companies soar
Moody's unveils current account balance in Azerbaijan's GDP for 2021
Uzbekistan’s economic activity index drops significantly
French Senate interested in strengthening bilateral co-op with Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan enters list of world’s largest cotton producers
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 3
Russia's Rosselkhoznadzor allows imports of apples, tomatoes from some Azerbaijani enterprises
Bosnian journalist talks parallel between genocides in Srebrenica and Azerbaijani Khojaly
Azerbaijan confirms 161 more COVID-19 recoveries
Approving FATF related bills in Iran's interest - Iranian President
No Mystery, Top American Pandemic Expert Lists 9 Govt Actions Behind Plummeting Covid Cases in India
Georgian VTB Bank to maintain adequate capitalization with RAC - S&P Global Ratings
Union of OIC News Agencies and ICD through THIQAH sign MoC to enhance cooperation in media field
Azerbaijan shares data on 2020 int'l cargo transportation by rail
Kazakhstan Railways opens tender for equipment repair
Georgian citizens can enter Turkey only if they have negative PCR test
Demand for notes of Azerbaijan's Central Bank surpasses supply
Moody’s says Azerbaijan’s economy to grow in 2021
Over 14 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in India: Government
India's women scientists breaking barriers in space exploration
Number of Mastercard products and operations increases in Azerbaijan
Crucial lessons to be learnt from Covid-19 outbreak
India's oil demand set to hit record high as recovery from Covid sets in
UK To Receive 10 Million AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Doses From India: Report
Iran expects the US to take serious steps toward JCPOA
Biden appoints Indian-American Maju Varghese as Director of White House Military Office
India to invest $82 billion in port projects by 2035: PM Modi
Zarif announces mechanism of returning Iran's funds blocked in S.Korea
All news