but not summoned)

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ISLAMABAD, Sep 28 (Reuters) Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other senior officials today to explain why exiled former premier Nawaz Sharif was deported after arriving home despite a court ruling he could come back.

Sharif was deported to Saudi Arabia on September 10 hours after he arrived back from exile vowing to mount a challenge to President Pervez Musharraf.

The Supreme Court ruled in August that Sharif, who Musharraf overthrew in a coup eight years ago, had an ''inalienable right'' to come back and the government should not try to stop him.

Sharif's lawyer, Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, told reporters the deportation had been ''an audacious case of contempt of court''.

Government officials said Sharif, who flew in from London, was given a choice of prosecution on corruption charges or leaving, and he opted to leave.

Besides Premier Aziz, the Supreme Court ordered 12 others including the chief minister of Punjab province, the interior minister and director general of the Federal Investigation Agency to appear in court on October 17, court officials said.

Sharif's supporters petitioned the Supreme Court on September 11 saying their leader was illegally deported, and the government had acted in contempt of court.

Sharif was sent to Saudi Arabia in 2000 as part of what the government says was a deal that he would stay in exile for 10 years instead of going to prison for hijacking and graft convictions.

Despite a mixed record as prime minister, Sharif's popularity soared for ruling out talks with the unpopular Musharraf, who has refused to give up his post as army chief post until after he is re-elected.

REUTERS YA/SS PM1400

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