Nawaz’s return linked to poll ‘schedule’

Party pins hope on next CJ for desired relief to Sharif family

RAMEEZ KHAN August 19, 2023
PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif can be seen delivering a video message from London. August 2022. SCREENGRAB


As anticipation builds around the return of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) supremo Nawaz Sharif, several party leaders from in and around Lahore have disclosed that they have not received any new instructions regarding preparations for his arrival.

Speaking exclusively to The Express Tribune, the leaders revealed that the majority of the information they have received about Sharif's return has been through the media.

The chatter about Nawaz's return had intensified after former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, in an interview last week, confirmed that the party's supreme leader will be returning to Pakistan next month to face the courts.

The claim was followed by reports that party officials had been instructed to prepare for his grand return.

Interestingly, it is worth noting that the party has made similar claims in the past, each time prompting stories in both print and electronic media about the party’s orders to finalise preparation and formation of some legal committee to chalk out a legal strategy.

The claims have turned out to be nothing more than a hoax.

After CJP's retirement?

This time, however, there seems to be a belief within the PML-N that the incoming Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa will provide the Sharif family with the desired relief.

As the current chief justice is set to retire next month, there is speculation that Nawaz may choose to return once the new chief justice assumes office. This could explain why party president Shehbaz Sharif mentioned a specific time frame for his brother's return for the first time.

However, several party members disagree with the claims being made by the party leadership. They believe that Nawaz Sharif's return would likely be closer to the elections, and since the elections are postponed until next year, there is no urgency for his return.

Moreover, they feel that the party is relying too heavily on the new chief justice, which could prove counter-productive, as any relief granted by him would be seen as a favour to the PML-N.

A former MPA from Lahore, speaking to The Express Tribune, said that they were told to prepare for Nawaz Sharif's return, some three to four months ago and that there were no new instructions.

He said that Nawaz Sharif's return would not make any considerable difference, as the party is already in a winning position, given that there was no competition.

He said his arrival would definitely energise the party’s ranks and files but beyond party lines, his charm will lose its magic, adding that inflation was an all-time high and even for people linking him, it has become difficult to survive.

However, he noted that despite anti-PDM sentiment, people do not have any option, so at least in his constituency which largely comprises rural areas, they were in a comfortable position.

Another former MPA from the city, who also requested anonymity, said that there was chatter in the party that Nawaz Sharif was returning soon “but that’s that”. He said that they have not been given any instructions to prepare afresh, as was being reported in the media.

However, he asserted they were ready to receive their Quaid in the shortest notice.

Former MNA Waheed Alam Khan said that there was no need to ask them to prepare again and again. They have been communicated by the party, some time ago and that was enough.

The PML-N is the biggest party in the country and has a huge following so a grand reception would not be an issue. When asked when Nawaz Sharif’s return, he said to his knowledge before the next elections.


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