Islamabad, Oct 24: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is pressing President Pervez Musharraf to allow former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan before the general elections, highly placed intelligence sources have said.
They further said that King Abdullah communicated this appeal to Musharraf on October 15. Musharraf told the Saudi monarch that Sharif and his brother Shahbaz should only return after the general elections, sources added. He, however, said Sharif"s wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, could return to Pakistan immediately.
The Saudis made the request after Bhutto insisted on returning to Pakistan. The Saudis are said to be mulling over Musharraf"s request. Meanwhile, former Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that Musharraf was pressuring Nawaz to stay out of Pakistan through his overseas friends. Shahbaz told the sources that Musharraf had sent Nawaz into forced exile with the help of his foreign friends.
He said Musharraf was still pressuring Nawaz to stop trying to return with the help of a 'friendly' country. "Saudi Arabia is closely monitoring the situation and Nawaz will be in Pakistan soon," Shahbaz added.
Sources also said that Bhutto in her letter to Musharraf on October 16, before she returned to Pakistan, had named five former and serving officials who should be investigated in the event she was assassinated on her return.
These include IB chief Ijaz Shah, Sharif"s former top spook Imtiaz Billa, former ISI chief Hameed Gul, special prosecutor for NAB Waseem Afzal and Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim.
One of the six 'suspicious' cell numbers cited in her letter led to several arrests, according to the intelligence sources, the Daily Times reported.