Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday dismissed talks in political circles of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif's purportedly planned return to Pakistan as "useless chatter", saying that such a development would make "no difference" to the government.
Sharif had left the country in 2019 after his seven-year sentence for corruption was suspended by the Islamabad High Court for eight weeks so he could seek medical treatment abroad.
He never returned and was declared a "proclaimed offender" by multiple courts and "absconder" by the government. Talk of his potential return next year has been making the rounds, with even the prime minister and ministers addressing it recently.
Speaking to the media in Rawalpindi today, Rashid said "unnecessary hype" was being created around Sharif's return, adding that it was unfortunate for Pakistan that people "who spent most of their life here eventually leave the country instead of loving it".
Rashid said that his offer of a one-way ticket to Pakistan for Sharif was still up for grabs.
On Sunday, the interior minister had accused Sharif of attacking the judiciary and giving statements on the army while sitting abroad.
In his conversation with reporters today, Rashid insisted that Pakistan Army and institutions were dedicated to serve the country, saying "governments come and go, but the establishment stands with the elected government."
He added that the previously elected governments also completed their five years but their [leaders] had to depart due to court orders.
Minister wants PDM to revisit protest plan
Without naming the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — an alliance of opposition parties — the interior minister said he wanted them to move back their protest scheduled for March 23 to March 30 in Islamabad due to the latter being the Pakistan Day.
"By just being adamant to your plan, you will hurt yourself and also force me to enforce the law. But I assure you that no one will resort to any measure if you don't take the law into your hands," the minister added.
The minister said several important dignitaries would visit Pakistan on March 23, hence "maintaining law and order will the utmost priority for us".
He also said PM Imran would rid the country of inflation in the fifth year of his current tenure.
Rashid ruled out the possibility of Imran Khan calling it a day, saying "Khan is not going anywhere and we will contest another election with him."