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Nawaz’s return and its ramifications

"With general elections approaching fast, the PML-N will use all its cards to win the support of masses. This time, the making of an alliance with the PPP will be a tricky option because, the main focus of the party will be the securing of a clear majority in the National Assembly"

All eyes are fixed on the landing of former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan after the removal of his name from the exit control list (ECL) and issuance of a green passport by the government. The issuance of passport was the basic requirement for his arrival but mystery shrouds former prime minister’s intentions and PML-N’s strategy on fixing a return date.

Back in 2019, before flying to the UK, Sharif had given an undertaking to the Lahore High Court to return to Pakistan, within four weeks or as soon as he is declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors. He was also given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving seven-year imprisonment in Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail. Since his departure to the UK in November 2019, he has not returned to Pakistan despite efforts by the PTI government to bring him back so that he could undergo the remaining prison sentence. Once again, speculations are high about his possible return to the country likely before the next general elections. A hint has already been given by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah who has told the media that the party anticipates Nawaz Sharif’s presence in the country during the election campaign, clarifying that the decision to return would, however, purely depend on Nawaz Sharif.

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Apparently, it would not be a proud moment for the former premier who is returning home as a convict. The PML-N is making all efforts to prove the court punishment as political victimization and will try its best to secure a bail for Mian Nawaz Sharif against the charges of corruption for which he has been awarded the imprisonment. Anyhow, the return of Sharif is inevitable as he has to secure bail relief by showing up in the court. Even if he is imprisoned and denied the bail, he can portray the punishment as discrimination to win sympathy vote. Nevertheless, Nawaz Sharif is hoping for an unprecedented welcome from his diehard supporters in the country and his party is busy trying to prove himself the real savior for the masses. There is a strong possibility that the PML-N will try to secure the much needed court relief before his arrival in Pakistan as has been witnessed regarding the issuance of green passport.

With general elections approaching fast, the PML-N will also use all its cards to win the masses support. This time, the making of an alliance with the PPP will be a tricky option because, the main focus of the party will be the securing of clear majority in the National Assembly. Among the mainstream political parties at the national level, the PPP is still a main opponent of the PML-N in the centre and Sindh. Although, a meeting has already been held between PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif in London, where both leaders have decided to revive the charter of democracy, a pact, which was agreed between Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif back during the Musharraf regime in 2006. Now once again, both parties are striking a deal under give and take policy. The PPP wants support from the PML-N in Punjab while the latter is in need of the former for keeping the number game intact in centre now and in future too.

So, the ground is being paved for the return of the party supremo. For the PML-N, the return of Mian Nawaz Sharif will also give a much needed impetus to the election campaign of the party. Amid strong backlash by the PTI, Mian Nawaz Sharif will be presented as the real savior of the nation. One can say that by according a rosy welcome to their leader, the PML-N will try to achieve a number of political motives. One possible explanation can be an effort by the PML-N to impress its political opponents and show them that Nawaz Sharif is still a favourite public leader. The PML-N can gauge its popularity among the public by using the Nawaz card. Second, as the general elections are approaching fast, the PML-N wants to keep its vote bank intact and by reaching the general public, it would try to win the confidence of the public.

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However, there are some negative aspects as well as some serious ramifications of this homecoming. There is a possibility of clashes between the supporters of the PML-N and PTI and confrontation can lead to law and order situation in the country. It seems a battle for survival in politics. It would also be a test case for our judicial system whether a convicted person is sent to jail on his arrival or not. Let’s see whether people accord Mian Nawaz Sharif a rosy welcome, create chaotic situation or the day passes peacefully culminating in the imprisonment of Mian Nawaz Sharif.

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