In other words, Gen Musharraf could beef up certain politicians who would effectively be under the army's control, making it easier for him to control the courts and the presidency. Also, the symbolism of loyalty that an incarcerated Sharif invoked, and which helped mobilise public opinion against the military regime, is mostly gone.
Sharif's exile to Saudi Arabia can also be explained to those who believe that he should have been severely punished for his corruption. The Sharif case has been handled as a corruption case where political expediency and punishment for illegal assets have gone together. The pardon, after all, was officially and legally handed down by President Rafiq Tarar. Sharif is required by the courts to forfeit $8.3 million in property and stay out of politics for 21 years, just as industrialists thrown into jail for corruption have had to forfeit tens and thousands of dollars to secure their release. A lot of people in Pakistan feel that this is preferable to a situation like that of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was sent to the gallows by the then army ruler Zia-ul-Haq.