New Delhi: The discussions on deposed Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s return started after his brother Shehbaz Sharif took the oath as the new premier. Now, some of the PML-N leaders have claimed that he may return to Pakistan after Eid celebrations on a diplomatic passport.
PML-N parliamentarian Javed Latif claimed on Tuesday that Sharif will return to the country after Eid which will be celebrated in the first week of May which sparked a debate among the party officials with some saying that once he gets a clean bill of health from his doctors or a reprieve from the country’s courts in corruption cases pending against him, he may return.
According to a PTI report, Marriyum Aurangzeb, the party spokesperson has asserted that nothing is final on Sharif’s comeback till he is declared fit to travel by his doctors.
“Mian Nawaz Sharif will return to the country once his doctors in London declare him fit to travel. Besides, the decision on it will be taken in consultation with the party leadership,” PML-N central spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb told PTI on Tuesday.
Several corruption cases had been launched by the government of ex-prime minister Imran Khan against the 72-year-old Sharif since his ouster from office by the Supreme Court in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case.
In November 2019, Sharif left for London after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission allowing him to go abroad for his treatment. He had given an undertaking to the Lahore High Court to return to Pakistan, citing his record to face the process of law and justice within four weeks or as soon as he is declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors.
Sharif was also given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving seven-year imprisonment in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail. The court has declared him a proclaimed offender (PO) in the Toshakhana case.
“Mr Nawaz’s return to Pakistan largely depends on the relief he gets from courts in corruption cases pending against him,” a senior PML-N leader told PTI.
He said if the deposed premier decides to return immediately, he will have to go to jail in the Toshakhana case in which he has been declared a proclaimed offender.
“Unless Mr. Nawaz gets clean chit in a couple of cases against him here, he will not return to create difficulties to his party-led coalition government,” the party leader said.
The PML-N has virtually ruled out an immediate return of Sharif.
A couple of senior PML-N leaders said the party functionaries and workers were very happy to see Sharif junior as the Pakistan PM while looking forward to seeing Nawaz Sharif among them in the coming days.
“Nawaz Sharif has no immediate plans to return. The Sharif family thinks that his early return will establish the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) propaganda that he does not have serious health issues,” a senior PML-N leader from Punjab said, as reported by Dawn.
He further added, “The other factor Nawaz will weigh before deciding to return is how the 11-party coalition government functions in the coming months in the face of the growing PTI pressure for early elections.”
Khan recently confessed that allowing Sharif to go abroad was a big mistake. The ex-prime minister and his party men often claim Sharif faked his illness to leave the country, reported ANI.
However, in reply to a question about the tentative date for Nawaz’s return, another leader close to the former premier, said: “Either just before the next polls or right after… If Nawaz gets some relief in the corruption cases ahead of the next elections, the party will press him to return to spearhead the PML-N’s election campaign. To match Imran Khan’s canvassing, the PML-N needs Nawaz around.”
Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bokhari told Dawn, “Mian Sahib (Nawaz Sharif) will return to Pakistan once his consultants allow him to travel.” She also stated that after Shehbaz Sharif’s election as the PM, the party workers have become emotional and they want Nawaz Sharif to return soon, but the decision has to be taken on the advice of his doctors. “He will be here at an appropriate time,” she added
(With agency inputs)