Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Sunday claimed that the party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif is returning from London to steer Pakistan out of all the crises.
She made the remarks while addressing a public gathering organised by the PML-N Youth Volunteers in Lahore.
Ending uncertainty over the PML-N supremo’s homecoming ahead of the upcoming elections, Maryam — who is also the chief organizer of the party — reiterated that the three-time former prime minister would return to the country on October 21, after becoming “more powerful”.
Last month, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif had revealed the date for his elder brother’s homecoming. "Nawaz Sharif will reach Pakistan on October 21."
However, speculations started doing rounds on social media and mainstream media about Nawaz’s return after the Supreme Court ordered to restore corruption cases against political bigwigs on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's petition challenging the amendments made to the country's accountability laws.
Ex-PM Nawaz, former president Asif Ali Zardari and former premier Yousuf Raza Gillani are likely to face inquiries after the apex court in a 2-1 verdict struck down some of the amendments made to the accountability laws.
Later, the PML-N president clarified that there was no change in the party’s supremo’s homecoming plan. The former ruling party, after in-depth discussions, declared that Nawaz is ready to face “all kinds of circumstances” upon return as per the schedule.
Nawaz has been in self-imposed exile in London since November 2019 owing to health reasons. He was disqualified for life in 2017 by the Supreme Court for not declaring a receivable salary.
The PML-N through its legal team would approach the Lahore High Court (LHC) for Nawaz’s bail before he lands in Pakistan. The decision was taken to avoid Nawaz’s arrest at Lahore airport because he was declared a proclaimed offender.
Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had announced that general elections in the country would take place by the last week of January 2024.
Addressing the political gathering, Maryam insisted that the PML-N supremo is coming back to steer the country out of all kinds of crises. “He will start a new era of progress, peace and employment for the youth and rid [the nation] of inflation.”
Nawaz will restore the country’s fragile economy and eliminate the menace of terrorism, she also said. “People will prove on October 21 that only Nawaz Sharif is the leader.”
Maryam further said that the PML-N’s aim is the welfare of people and correcting the system.
“There will be only ruins in Pakistan if the development done by Nawaz Sharif is removed,” she added.
Terming Nawaz as the solution to all the problems of the country, Maryam said: “An individual is not returning on October 21 but the country’s progress and peace.”
At the same time, she urged the people to welcome their leader at Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore.
“Several attempts were made to eliminate Nawaz Sharif,” she said, adding that he left accountability of his tormentors to Almighty Allah.
Those who claimed Nawaz’s politics had over are now seeing that he is coming back, she added.
The PML-N leadership has decided in principle to craft its narrative around the economic revival of Pakistan and not flaunt the anti-establishment narrative to avoid creating an unnecessary diversion.
The key decision around this was taken at several meetings that took place in London last month. These meetings were attended by Nawaz, Shehbaz, Maryam, Ishaq Dar, Malik Ahmed Khan, Talal Chaudhary, Atta Tarar and others.
The PML-N’s narrative on Nawaz’s return to Pakistan in three weeks will be on the economy, governance and public issues and not on anything that reeks of revenge or confrontation with any institution, especially the military establishment. Senior PML-N leaders have said that the issues of Pakistan are so serious and challenging that confrontation with anyone is not the solution and the only way forward is to work through reconciliation and accommodation.
That doesn’t mean, said the sources, that the PML-N supremo or the party will compromise on naming and shaming their real “culprits”.
The nerves were caused within the PML-N ranks after the media focused on Nawaz’s recent statement in which he once again singled out former chief of army staff (COAS) Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) ex-director general Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed and several SC judges for implementing the “project Imran Khan” and bringing Pakistan to almost complete ruin.
In that statement, Nawaz called for the accountability of all the characters who were involved in bringing PTI to power, after unfairly ousting him from power in 2017.
However, during the London meetings, the party discussed that if the focus was pinned on holding these individuals accountable then the whole attention would be diverted and a permanent situation of confrontation would not help PML-N in any way.
The three-time former premier and his colleagues, said the source, remain aggrieved that elements of the military establishment damaged Pakistan and rigged the 2018 elections to bring Khan to power but they are also of the view that so much damage has been caused that only a roadmap for the future will bring optimism and hope and attention on the past grievances with a focus on revenge will create a spin around PML-N from which it will not come out unharmed.
There are only 2-3 hawks in the PML-N who believe that Nawaz’s focus should be on settling the scores with the establishment first and then doing anything else. An overwhelming majority within the PML-N is of the view that the PML-N should not get into any fights and should work with other institutions to bring changes to the lives of ordinary people and win elections and not go down the militant path of the PTI which has made the PTI popular but has damaged it, almost, beyond repair.
The PML-N supremo, according to the party insiders, has zero doubt in his beliefs that the establishment and the judiciary joined hands in 2017 to remove him from power at a time when he was going strong and looked set to win the 2018 elections comfortably but was removed by the judges on Iqama in highly controversial circumstances.
However, he has been advised by everyone around him to look to the future and not take any steps which could get his party into a fight with the powerful quarters, again. At this stage, Nawaz agrees with the majority opinion and has given the go-ahead to his trusted people to highlight the same in the media.
Maryam, according to sources, has been in the loop throughout and agrees that the PML-N should win the elections, come into power and deliver for the masses in order to stay relevant and intact.