Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday stepped aside from his position as the PML-N president, saying stated that “the time has come” for his brother Nawaz Sharif to retake his “rightful place as the president of the party”.

Nawaz was removed as the president of the party in 2018 after a Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by then-chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar ruled that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution cannot serve as head of a political party.

The apex court’s verdict was in response to 17 petitions challenging the controversial Elections Act 2017, which had been bulldozed through parliament in 2017 to pave the way for Nawaz’s return to the PML-N’s helm as party president.

Nawaz was previously deemed unfit to hold public office in the landmark Panama Papers judgement, in which a five-member SC bench had unanimously ruled that the former prime minister had not been ‘honest’ and ‘truthful’ in discharging his obligations as a lawmaker — both necessary conditions to hold public office in Pakistan under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb posted a letter on X today by PM Shehbaz to the party secretary general, saying that reflecting on the events of 2017 reminded him of the “resilience and fortitude” with which the party faced adversity under Nawaz’s leadership.

He said that Nawaz had entrusted him with the responsibility of assuming the party presidency in the face of adversity, adding that it was a duty he had “upheld with utmost dedication and sincerity”.

“However, I am cognisant that this role has always been viewed as a trust … bestowed upon me by our revered leader,” Shehbaz said.

He said he was “heartened by recent developments that have exonerated our leader with dignity, affirming his unblemished integrity and commitment to the service” of the country.

In a massive relief for the PML-N, the Islamabad High Court had on November 29 acquitted Nawaz in the Avenfield reference. The next month, on December 12, the PML-N supremo was acquitted in the Al-Azizia reference by the high court.

Shehbaz added that Nawaz and the party had also “entrusted” him with the responsibility of the prime minister’s seat.

“In light of these developments and the steadfast guidance of our beloved leader, I believe the time has come for Mohammad Nawaz Sharif to resume his rightful place as the president of the PML-N,” Shehbaz said.

“It is with a deep sense of duty and reverence for our party’s principles that I tender my resignation as the president,” he said.

He concluded that he was committed to serving the party “diligently and with unwavering loyalty” under Nawaz’s leadership.

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