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LAHORE, Sept 9: Prominent constitutional expert Abid Hasan Minto said on Sunday that deportation of Nawaz Sharif on his return to Pakistan would amount to contempt of court.

He said the government’s argument that under the agreement the PML-N leaders could not return to Pakistan for 10 years held no water. The agreement in question, he said, was only a ‘moral commitment’ which was further diluted as the Sharifs were saying it was valid only for five years.

Mr Minto, who is also former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said the agreement was not something on the basis of which the government could take a legal position. “Any action on the basis of this document would not be tenable”.

He recalled that the Supreme Court had already seen the so-called agreement but had given it no importance.

Answering a question, he said if the agreement was binding -- as claimed by Saad Hariri and the Saudi intelligence chief -- why the Sharifs had not been stopped from involving themselves in political activities during their stay in London.

He believed that repercussions would not be good if the government took any step in violation of the verdict of the Supreme Court.

Ruling PML Senator S.M. Zafar said the government had political as well as legal options to deal with Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif on their return to Pakistan on Monday.

To deal with the situation in a political manner, he said the Sharif brothers could be given a free hand just like Ms Benazir Bhutto was given when she had landed in Lahore after several years of self-exile on April 10, 1986.

Senator Zafar, who was also a former minister for law, recalled that Ms Bhutto had led some rallies after which the situation had normalised.

He said if the government was apprehending a law and order problem on the return of the Sharifs, it could invoke Section 144 to prohibit the PML-N from holding processions.

Similarly, the ruling party parliamentarian said if some cases were pending against the Sharifs brothers, both could be arrested.

Lastly, he said, an attempt could be made to persuade the Sharifs to comply with the wishes of the Saudi government which any Pakistani would find very difficult to ignore.

Senator Zafar said he had also heard that as the remission granted to the former prime minister was conditional the same could be reviewed. He said some other options could also be under consideration of the government.

“It’s unfortunate that a foreign country has somehow been involved in local politics of Pakistan.”

Another PML Senator Dr Khalid Ranjha said under the apex court’s verdict, Mr Sharif had the right to return to Pakistan and stay here. However, he said the Supreme Court had not stopped the government from arresting the Sharifs in cases pending against them.

Dr Ranjha, who remained federal law minister for three years during the Musharraf’s pre-election period, said deportation would be violative of the apex court’s judgment.He believed that Mr Sharif would not be able to play an effective role in electoral politics if he was arrested.

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif’s spokesman Nadir Chaudhri hopes the government will respect the Supreme Court’s verdict and allow the exiled leader and his brother to return to Pakistan.

“We hope the government will not take any illegal step to block the Sharifs’ return to their country,” he said while talking to Dawn from London.

“Any violation of the court order will result in strong reaction from the party workers and people of Pakistan.”