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PR Short Notes


Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 655, 28 August 2023

Nawaz Sharif's anticipated return: From “Will he” to “When”



Nawaz Sharif’s return will have various advantages for the PML-N politically.

Dhriti Mukherjee

What do reports say?
On 25 August, Dawn reported that former President Shehbaz Sharif responded to speculation over Nawaz Sharif's impending return to Pakistan. He stated: “We held consultations with the senior leadership of the party and we have decided that our quaid [leader] Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan in October.” However, the timeline continues to shift as it is being influenced by various factors. Party insiders have put forth the retirement of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Nawaz's pending appeals, and election dates, as possible developments that are playing a pivotal role in determining his return. The fear of potential incarceration upon returning, due to being declared an absconder and pending appeals, adds to the complexity of this decision.

Although it was initially speculated that he would return in mid September, recent advice from party loyalists has led to a delay until mid-October. A source reportedly told The News International that “the severity of weather” is what has led to discussions focusing on 15 October as a tentative return date.

Political implications of his return
Nawaz Sharif's return is not devoid of political implications. The PML-N leadership has accused Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial of showing "double standards" regarding the treatment of incarcerated politicians. Shehbaz Sharif openly criticized the Chief Justice for the apparent disparity in concern for Nawaz Sharif's well-being during incarceration. These allegations and statements have widened the discourse surrounding political victimization within Pakistan’s legal system.

Amidst these complex circumstances, Shehbaz Sharif emphasized the party's commitment to "transparent accountability across the board for all institutions." This is in alignment with PML-N’s recent calls for legal proceedings to be conducted in a fair manner, and its intention to facilitate the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in ensuring transparency in the upcoming general elections.

Importance behind his return 
Nawaz Sharif’s return will have various advantages for the PML-N politically. While Shehbaz Sharif has proven to be a good administrator, most party members and supporters look at Nawaz as a more pragmatic leader. His connections with the people of the country and other international leaders have led him to be a celebrated political figure, and his return could set a more successful trajectory for the PML-N.

Along these lines, his return could present better chances of the PML-N securing votes in provinces other than Punjab. This would mean a spread of their support base and influence, having inevitable advantages for the party as a whole.

References
Atika Rehman, “New date floated for Nawaz’s homecoming,” Dawn, 26 August 2023;
Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan in October: Shehbaz,” Dawn, 25 August 2023
Murtaza Ali Shah, “Nawaz Sharif to return in October,” The News International, 26 August 2023

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