PML-N MNA Javed Latif said on Thursday that party supremo Nawaz Sharif will return to Pakistan this year and will become prime minister for the fourth time.
Talking to reporters outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office in Lahore, he said there were two reasons Nawaz could return to Pakistan. "Nawaz Sharif cannot stay abroad after seeing Pakistanis stuck in this crisis. He is coming here to lead the nation himself. Even if [his] treatment is not complete, he is definitely coming to make up for the treatment being meted out to the nation."
Latif said there was another "solution" in which those who "disqualified him, ended his government and [caused] the crisis that Pakistan is stuck in for the last three years" would "plead" with the former prime minister to return since he was the only one who could take the country out of the crisis.
The PML-N MNA questioned why Nawaz was brought back in 2013 and why he was "allowed" to be elected even if people had already voted for him. "The way he was elected in 2013 [...] conditions are moving towards a situation where those who let him leave are not regretting it but are helpless. If there is a well-wisher of Pakistan, he can see that the country's problems will not go away without Nawaz Sharif," he claimed.
Nawaz has been living in London since November 2019 after he was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment.
In December last year, the PML-N supremo was declared a proclaimed offender in two cases — Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia — by the Islamabad High Court after he failed to appear before the court. The government had subsequently decided to cancel his passport.
Last month, the UK Home Office rejected Nawaz's request for an extension in his visa, following which the PML-N supremo's lawyers filed an appeal in the British Immigration Tribunal. "Nawaz will legally remain in the UK till the tribunal issues its decision on his plea for his stay in the country," PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb had said at the time.
The party leadership has said on multiple occasions that the former premier will return to the country after he has "fully recovered".
A medical report submitted to the Lahore High Court last month stated that Nawaz "cannot return as doctors have not yet allowed him air travel".
'No objection if Bilawal comes to power through public vote'
While talking to reporters today, Latif said the PML-N had "no objection" if PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari came to power after being elected through public vote.
"The perception is being given that PPP is being brought [forward] like Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Chaudhry Nisar said [...] then our stance is these people are not [elected] but selected. If someone is selected, we are against it because Pakistan's problems cannot be addressed," he added.
"Whether it is the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), PML-N or PPP [...] or if people are satisfied with the performance of PTI in three years and elect them, we will not have any objection even to that. But we will not let a government be formed by pressing a button on a machine. People will not accept or tolerate it."
Regarding his appearance at the anti-graft watchdog's office, Latif said he knew NAB would serve him a notice because of his recent speeches in the National Assembly as well as his remarks on the "restrictions being imposed" through the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill.
"I am mentally prepared. I know why I was [labelled] a traitor. If I am a Pakistani and people elect me, then the biggest responsibility on me is that I follow my oath and identify what wrong [things] are happening in Pakistan."
He claimed that he had been investigated by the NAB earlier because he had raised his voice against the "dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf", adding that he had warned people would have to pay the price for what was done to Nawaz and it had been "proven" today.
The PML-N MNA said that during earlier investigations, the NAB had asked him about alleged misuse of authority to build his assets. "Despite repeatedly providing answers, there is no [conclusion]. It has been three years that I am coming to the courts and neither have I ever considered misusing my authority [to gain] even Rs1, nor have they found any such thing," he emphasised.