LONDON: In a major development, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has revealed the date for his elder brother and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan ahead of the upcoming elections to lead the party’s political campaign in the country.
“Nawaz Sharif will reach Pakistan on October 21,” Shehbaz told Geo News on Tuesday.
The statement came after a meeting of the PML-N’s top leadership headed by Nawaz in London.
Nawaz — who has been in self-imposed exile in London since November 2019 owing to health reasons — was disqualified for life in 2017 by the Supreme Court for not declaring a receivable salary.
The London huddle was attended by Suleman Shehbaz, Hassan Nawaz, former federal minister Khawaja Asif, Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan and Nasir Janjua. The party’s strategy regarding the election, Nawaz’s return and the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) stance on the elections came under discussion.
Last week, Nawaz himself for the first time confirmed his homecoming next month, during his interaction with his party workers and supporters at Stanhope House.
Earlier, PML-N President Shehbaz also said that his brother would be returning in October. “Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan in October and lead the election campaign and this has been decided after the PML-N party consultations,” he had said, adding that the ex-premier would face the law of the land when he is back in Pakistan.
Previously, Geo News reported that Nawaz would return to Pakistan by mid-September, however, there has been a change of plan in the last few days after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that elections are not possible within 90 days.
The decision to return around mid-October was taken after Shehbaz held two meetings with the PML-N supremo in the United Kingdom’s capital city, after his arrival in London on August 20 following handing over the reins of the government to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar.
The PML-N leaders have repeatedly mentioned Nawaz’s homecoming ahead of the general elections in the past. In January, former interior minister and senior party leader Rana Sanaullah hinted at Nawaz’s “honourable homecoming” after overcoming legal challenges.
“Nawaz Sharif should land in Lahore,” he had suggested and vowed that he would be accorded an unprecedented welcome upon his return from London — where he has been residing since 2019.
Nawaz’s self-imposed exile
The three-time premier reached London on November 19, 2019, when he fell critically ill in prison.
It was alleged by the family that the Imran Khan-led government and his “backers” had tried to poison Nawaz. He was treated at the Harley Street Clinic and London Bridge Hospital for four months.
Nawaz had been diagnosed with an immune system disorder and doctors in Pakistan recommended that he should go abroad for treatment as his condition continued to deteriorate despite the best possible care in the country.
More to follow…