Pakistan Reader# 668, 15 September 2023
On 12 September, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif announced the homecoming of his big brother and PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif on 21 October 2023. Nawaz left Pakistan for almost four years in self-imposed exile to the UK following his corruption case. He was convicted for seven years of imprisonment in Al- Aziza Mills and Avenfield corruption case 2018, and was allowed to go to London in 2019 on “medical ground” from where he never returned. Nawaz stressed that the charges filed against him were “politically motivated” and he refutes any financial fraudulence.
Response: “Historic Welcome”
On 14 September, PML-N chief organizer daughter of PML-N supremo, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, urged the party ticket holders to gather supporters for the “historic welcome” of Nawaz Sharif. The party plan to congregate 200,000 supports to receive the party supremo. Maryam also informed the party members the candidature of her father for the position of Prime Minister and urged: “the people to give him the two-thirds majority in the election so that he could change their destiny.” A clear mandate by the public is vital for his return to politics and to steer the country out of crisis, stated Maryam. Additionally, a retired Captain Muhammad Safdar said that Nawaz’s return can only change and improve the fate of Pakistan. He said his expulsion in 2018 was due Nawaz’s refusal to give extension to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Change in the Political Climate
An editorial in The Friday Times reported on the Nawaz Sharif’s return where it stated that the political climate has seen major shift since Nawaz Sharif left Pakistan. The recent political climate poses a unique challenge for Nawaz Sharif and his party to come into power with the public sentiments more towards anti- establishment and the inflation rate hitting the roof have polarized public opinion and parties. PML-N party is tackling fissure within as a section is leaning against the military involvement and aims for ‘civil supremacy,’ the Shehbaz Sharif faction strongly believes in working with establishment can aid them with patronage. This puts Nawaz in a conundrum as to reignite the anti- establishment party stance that might result with him facing political and legal crackdown if not, he might lose on already dwindling support base. Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir has been making rounds to “fix” the country. Recently he led electricity pilferage crackdown against hoarders and smugglers. All the while promising to get USD 100 billion aid through Special Investment Facilitation Council therefore steering the economic policy for Pakistan. The stronghold of military interference into the legislative and executive branches mean that Nawaz Sharif cannot afford to disappoint the establishment.
Zulqernain Tahir, “Maryam asks party leaders to accord rousing welcome to Nawaz on Oct 21,” Dawn, 15 September 2023
“Only Nawaz can put Pakistan on 'right track', says Safdar,” The Express Tribune, 14 September 203