PML-N mulls securing bail for Nawaz before his return

Published August 17, 2023
In this file photo from April 1, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif addresses a press conference in London. — Screengrab
In this file photo from April 1, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif addresses a press conference in London. — Screengrab

LAHORE: The PML-N leadership on Wednesday discussed the possibility of applying for bail in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for party supremo Nawaz Sharif, paving the way for his return from London, where he has been residing for nearly four years.

Sources told Dawn that senior leaders and legal brains in the party had been deliberating for the past few days over the timing of Mr Sharif’s return and the cases he is facing in Pakistan.

Once “certain matters” related to Nawaz Sharif’s return were finalised, PML-N president and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif would fly off to London to see his elder brother, the sources said.

If all went as per the party’s plan, the sources said, the three-time premier would land in Islamabad — that is, after securing bail from the IHC — where he would address a public rally at Parade Ground.

Party supremo says he wants to go back to Pakistan ‘soon’

He would then move to Lahore through GT Road. In Lahore, the scions of the Sharif family, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz, would join hands to mobilise workers across Punjab to make a “historic rally” to be addressed by Nawaz Sharif, according to the plan.

However, there was a possibility of last-minute changes to this plan, and Mr Sharif might arrive in Lahore and address a public gathering.

Talking to journalists in London on Wednesday, Nawaz Sharif said: “I wish to go back to Pakistan soon.”

Although outgoing premier Shehbaz Sharif and former defence minister Khawaja Asif have recently claimed that Nawaz Sharif would return in September, some senior party leaders believed the elder Sharif should return a month or two ahead of general elections, which may be delayed until March next year because of the delimitation of constituencies.

The PML-N circles believe that Nawaz Sharif will only return to the country once he gets relief in cases faced by him in Pakistan.

“Delay in his return shows that still some assurances are required before he books his return ticket,” a source said, adding that the possible delay in elections until February or March would provide more time to the elder Sharif to settle his cases.

Nawaz Sharif was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018.

He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills reference before he was allowed to proceed to London on medical grounds.

Meanwhile, Shehbaz Sharif said that his 16-month tenure as premier was the toughest time in his life.

“I only thought about the welfare of the people and not our politics,” he said while talking to Malik Ahmad Khan and Saad Rafique, who called on him at Model Town to discuss the upcoming elections and the party’s reorganisation.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2023

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