LAHORE: The political atmosphere in the country has heated up with the return of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif’s return to the country on Sunday after a two-month stay in London, as members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the opposition party are taking broadsides at each other in the wake of the development.
Shehbaz landed at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore early morning amid strict security arrangements. Several PML-N activists and supporters reached the airport to welcome the party president back to the country.
They chanted slogans and showered rose petals on him. The opposition leader in the National Assembly went to the Sharif family residence in Jati Umra and met his mother Begum Shamim Akhtar. His niece and party vice president Maryam Nawaz informed him about the health condition of her incarcerated father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Shehbaz expressed his concerns over his brother’s deteriorating health.
On April 10, Shehbaz departed for a “quick trip” to London after his name was removed from the exit control list on the orders of the Lahore High Court.
On April 4, the federal government removed Shehbaz from the no-fly list. The opposition leader is accused of money laundering and possessing assets beyond known means of income in several cases.
According to the PML-N president’s lawyers, he will appear before an accountability court on June 11 in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases.
The court had expressed its annoyance during the previous hearing over Shehbaz’s absence.
Commenting on Shehbaz’s arrival, Punjab Information Minister Samsam Bukhari said the PML-N president did not deserve to be appreciated for returning to the country as every citizen was equal before the law. “I hope that he [Shehbaz] will also speak the truth in court now,” he added.
The minister said other Pakistanis, who were facing cases but had taken refuge abroad, should also return and face the courts.
Taking to Twitter to comment on the PML-N leader’s return, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Shehbaz had turned the two-week relief given by the court into a two-month holiday.
“Shehbaz Sharif had been spotted swiftly roaming on the streets of London and it did not seem that he had any health issue. I hope that now he will not go abroad and attend the courts regularly.”
PTI leader Babar Awan demanded that Shehbaz should present a report of the medical treatment he had undergone in London before the court. “The nation deserves to know what treatment he [Shehbaz] underwent abroad,” she said. “The National Assembly speaker should bind the opposition leader to seek medical treatment within the country.”
Responding to the ruling party’s diatribe against the party president, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said the PTI should brace itself for tough times ahead now that Shehbaz had returned.
“You should better be prepared for two slogans, ‘Go Imran Go’ and ‘Hide at Bani Gala’,” he added.
Sanaullah said the special assistant to the PM on information should go through the Economic Survey of the outgoing fiscal year and realise how her government had devastated the country’s sectors and deprived citizens of their livelihoods.
“It’s clear that you are afraid now that Shehbaz Sharif has returned because of your incompetence.”
PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said Prime Minister Imran Khan should be worried over her party president’s return to the country.