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Expats give mixed reaction
By Our Staff Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Dec 10: Pakistanis here have been taken by surprise by the exile of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif by the Musharraf regime on Saturday, but reactions to the startling development have been mixed.

Dr Ikram U. Khan, a former president of the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America, said Pakistanis would be deeply concerned about the move since it meant that while those who plundered Pakistan and exploited the ordinary people could get off the hook and still manage to live in luxury abroad.

Dr Nisar Chaudhry, president of the Pakistan America League and a director of the Pakistan American Congress, said the decision meant that anyone who declared he would not contest elections could be forgiven all his sins. He said people would now ask why Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari shouldn't also be pardoned.

Dr Mansoor Ejaz, a Washington-based scholar and journalist, said the persistent view that the regime's accountability drive was selective would be reinforced by the latest development.

Another Pakistani writer and broadcaster said that this was perhaps the first time that any Pakistani government had formally and officially sent a citizen into exile, and wondered whether it could do so under the country's constitution. "It is quite a confusing development," he remarked.

Our Dubai correspondent A. Qudoos adds: Majority of the Pakistanis living in the UAE have expressed their satisfaction over the amnesty granted to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, but others were of the view that it would badly affect the country's legal system and the credibility of the accountability process.

PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, who is in Dubai with her children, declined to comment saying that she was not in a position to issue political statements while in Dubai.

Abdul Sattar Pardesi, welfare secretary of the Pakistan Association in Dubai, praised the decision of the government and said his amnesty was in the interest of the country.

Mohammad Siddique Chaudhry, president of the Pakistan Business Council, said the details of the deal should be made public, and also praised the move which, he added, was on humanitarian grounds. He said Mr Sharif's exit would be good for politics in Pakistan as all major players were now out of the country.
( Dawn, Dec 11, 2000 )

if's exit would be good for politics in Pakistan as all major players were now out of the country.
( Dawn, Dec 11, 2000 )