Nawaz’s return?

Published August 15, 2023

YET another date has emerged for the ‘return’ of PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, this time coming from his brother, Shehbaz Sharif.

Over the last year, several such deadlines and dates have been given by various PML-N members. From Rana Sanaullah to Mian Javed Latif, prominent party politicians have made claims that the elder Sharif, who has been living in London since 2019, will return to Pakistan at one point or the other.

So far, that has not happened. It appears that the PML-N leadership in Pakistan is clueless about his return, and that they give a vague timeline whenever asked about it. This shows a disconnect not only between the first- and second-tier leadership, but also between Mr Sharif and his vote bank.

Clearly, the PML-N is desperate for him to return so that lost political capital can be regained, the party galvanised and a poll campaign launched to reach out to PML-N voters. But despite these realities, Mr Sharif continues to sit tight in London for reasons best known to him.

As a politician, Mr Sharif has no excuse to stay away. For the last four years, he has lived abroad on the pretext of health issues, yet there are other reasons for his absence from the country — he is certainly able to travel to Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Europe whenever the ‘need’ arises.

It is evident that Mr Sharif wants to avoid facing the law as he has been embroiled in several cases in which he faces jail time. He has been declared an absconder, is in the process of appealing convictions, and hopes to overturn his disqualification case.

It is surprising that someone who has in the past faced political persecution and seen the inside of jail cells is not willing to face reality today. As the leader of one of the largest parties in the country, Mr Sharif should quit remote-control politics and return.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2023

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