Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Image: AP
The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leaders have failed to reach a consensus on the return of party supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from London to Pakistan ahead of the general elections, a media report said on Wednesday. Nawaz Sharif, 73, has been living in self-imposed exile in the UK since November 2019. He 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 case before he was allowed to proceed to London in 2019 on "medical grounds". A consultative meeting of PML-N leaders on Tuesday presided over by party president Shehbaz Sharif was held to discuss the country's political situation, upcoming general elections and Nawaz Sharif’s return home.
Earlier this month, the outgoing premier Shehbaz Sharif, 71, said that his elder brother Nawaz Sharif would return to Pakistan in September to face his pending court cases and lead the party's campaign for the general election. Some of the PML-N leaders participating in Tuesday's meeting suggested that Nawaz Sharif should return to the country by September, while others proposed that the party supremo should return by October, The Express Tribune reported quoting sources.
The PML-N leaders were of the view that the process of the three-time prime minister's return to the country and facing the law could politically benefit the party in the general elections expected to be held in the coming months. Some party leaders suggested that Nawaz Sharif should return only after eliminating the obstacles in his way.
Some leaders said that they wanted the party supremo to come back to the country and face the law but they did not want to take any risk on his return. Quoting party insiders, the report said Shehbaz Sharif was also acquiring final suggestions from political and legal experts about Nawaz Sharif’s return to the country.
In the next few days, Shehbaz Sharif will meet his brother in London and hold final consultations with him about the latter’s possible return plan, it said. Senior PML-N leader and former defence minister Khawaja Asif has said that Nawaz would not return to Pakistan until the risk was over. In 2016, Nawaz Sharif stepped down as the prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified him for life for concealing assets. His appeals against the conviction are currently pending in the relevant courts.
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