Nawaz Sharif, who has served as the prime minister of Pakistan three times, returned to the country on Saturday after spending four years in self-imposed exile. He is expected to reenter the political scene before the upcoming general election in January.
According to local media, Sharif recently departed from Dubai on a chartered flight accompanied by journalists and arrived in the capital city of Islamabad at approximately 1:30pm (0830 GMT).
“We are completely ready for elections,” he told reporters before his flight took off. “Our country, which should have been at the heights of prosperity, has really gone backwards. How did we get here? Why did it come to this?”
Experts believe that Sharif’s comeback was most likely arranged by the influential military establishment, who took action against Imran Khan’s party when their alliance deteriorated following Sharif’s removal from office last year.
Sharif is going to continue his journey to the large city of Lahore in the east. There, his supporters are holding a rally to welcome him home. The streets are decorated with green and yellow party banners, posters, and flags.
According to a high-ranking officer present at the site, over 7,000 police personnel have been recruited to manage the anticipated large crowds at the Greater Iqbal park in Lahore for the scheduled homecoming rally.
Razi Ullah, an 18-year-old, expressed his support for his leader’s return, citing the high inflation rate and desperation among the poor. He believes that this is an opportunity for his leader to make positive changes, as he has successfully done in the past.
PML-N party has been promoting Sharif’s comeback for several months, as their leaders believe that his strong political influence and down-to-earth demeanor will boost their declining popularity.
Unfortunately, the previous head of state has been found guilty of corruption and still has an incomplete jail term looming over him.
At the beginning of this week, the Islamabad high court approved protective bail for Sharif until Tuesday, eliminating the possibility of being arrested upon his return to the country.
Sharif served as prime minister on three separate occasions, however he was removed from office in 2017 and permanently banned from participating in politics due to a corruption conviction.
He spent less than a year in prison for a seven-year sentence before being allowed to seek medical treatment in Britain. He disregarded later court orders to return while Imran Khan was prime minister.
His luck took a turn when his brother, Shehbaz Sharif, held power and implemented legal changes that reduced the disqualification period for lawmakers from running in elections to five years.
Analyst Zahid Hussain stated that there was likely an agreement between the military and Sharif’s party to prevent any major legal obstacles, making his return smoother.
He stated that there was a certain agreement with the military organization. Without it, he would not have chosen to return.
Sharif has seen his political fortunes rise and fall on his relationship with Pakistan’s powerful military establishment – the country’s true kingmakers.
According to human rights monitors, politicians in Pakistan frequently become involved in legal issues that are planned and controlled by the influential military. The military has directly governed the country for the majority of its existence and still holds significant authority.
Sharif, who is highly popular in the eastern and most populous province of Punjab, is often referred to by his fans as “the Lion of Punjab”. He is known for showcasing large felines at grand political gatherings to garner support.
However, he is faced with the challenging task of gaining the support of a tired electorate who are wary of political dynasties and a youth population who have been drawn in by Khan’s technologically advanced party on social media.
According to political analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, Sharif’s primary obstacle is to demonstrate that he and his party are credible alternatives to the already popular Imran Khan. Additionally, he must also work towards improving the country’s economy.
Pakistan is currently under the leadership of a temporary government as elections approach.