Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League (N) said on Wednesday a statement by an unidentified Saudi spokesman asking Nawaz Sharif not to return to Pakistan in violation of his 10-year-exile pledge, was part of a disinformation campaign by a rattled government trying to thwart his return.

“No government spokesman anywhere in the world hides his identity. There is no authenticity to this report. This is also part of the campaign of rumours and threats that the government has started against Nawaz Sharif’s return,” said party chairman Raja Zafrul Haq at a press conference here, adding that the former Prime minister’s plan to arrive on September 10 remained unchanged.

The official Saudi agency SPA reported on Tuesday an unidentified spokesman denying Pakistani media reports that his government supported the return of Mr. Sharif to Pakistan.

“Contrary to reports that have been published, wisdom demands from Mr. Nawaz Sharif to abide by his pledge of not returning to Pakistan and politics,” the official is reported to have said.

Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani said the Saudi spokesman’s statement proved that Mr. Sharif had entered an agreement to go into exile for 10 years. The Minister said if Mr. Sharif returned, he would be “dealt with according to law”.

But Mr. Haq said the PML (N) leader was not afraid of being arrested or of being charged with any offence on his return. “He is ready to face anything,” Mr Haq said.

PML (N) information secretary Ahsan Iqbal said that even if the Saudi government were to officially declare that Mr. Sharif should not violate his pledge, the former Paksitan Prime Minister would only follow the verdict of the Supreme Court.

“It is the Supreme Court verdict that is supreme. We are confident that the government of Saudi Arabia will not give a statement against the verdict of the highest court of this country,” Mr Iqbal said.

Mr. Haq said if the Saudi government contacted the PML (N) directly, Mr. Sharif would be happy to explain the situation to his erstwhile benefactors directly.