After four years in self-imposed exile, the former Prime Minister and PML-N supreme leader, Nawaz Sharif, is set to return to his hometown of Lahore on October 21, 2023, as confirmed by his brother, Shehbaz Sharif. This much-anticipated decision was announced in London, where Nawaz has been residing. It was made by the party leadership after many discussions.
While a grand welcome is being planned for Nawaz Sharif, he is fully aware of the daunting challenges awaiting him upon his return. Pakistan faces complex issues, including political, economic, and security concerns. Nawaz recognizes that the political views has evolved during his absence, and his party, the PML-N, has faced setbacks in his absence.
During the past four years, PML-N leaders have traveled between Pakistan and London, seeking Nawaz’s guidance on crucial political matters. Even during Shehbaz Sharif’s tenure, who also served as Prime Minister, frequently visited London to consult with his older brother.
Nawaz Sharif’s departure to London in December 2019 was based on health reasons, following the Lahore High Court’s permission to travel abroad for four weeks. At that time, Nawaz was facing legal issues, having been found guilty in the Al Azizia corruption reference after being given bail for the London flats at that time.
Now, with his return to Pakistan coinciding with the upcoming elections, Nawaz faces significant legal challenges. The London flats reference, in which his daughter and son-in-law were acquitted, is still pending against him in the Islamabad High Court. Additionally, his sentence in the Al-Azizia case remains unresolved. He has been declared an offender in the Toshakhanna case after failing to appear in court despite non-bailable arrest warrants. Furthermore, the Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office for a lifetime. Legally, he is currently considered a proclaimed offender due to his seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia reference.
The question of whether Nawaz will be imprisoned upon his return or how he might avoid it remains unanswered. Nonetheless, his return marks a significant moment in Pakistan’s political landscape, and his future actions are eagerly anticipated by his party members and supporters