In a recent development, a notable contrast in viewpoints has arisen surrounding the anticipated return of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif. Contradicting the recent assertion made by former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, senior leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Khursheed Shah, has expressed skepticism regarding Nawaz Sharif’s scheduled return to Pakistan in October. The skepticism is grounded in Nawaz Sharif’s health-related issues, which Khursheed Shah believes could hinder his return plans.
Amidst a press conference held in London last Friday, Shehbaz Sharif, flanked by the three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, unveiled a new timeline for Nawaz’s homecoming. While Shehbaz Sharif announced that Nawaz Sharif would lead the election campaign upon his return in October 2023, a specific date was not confirmed during the announcement.
Nawaz Sharif had departed for London in November 2019 to undergo medical treatment after facing convictions in graft cases by an accountability court. His stay in London has extended since then, primarily due to health concerns.
In a conversation with local media on the following Sunday, Khursheed Shah revealed his doubts about Nawaz Sharif’s imminent return. Shah stated, “Nawaz Sharif’s health is not in a good condition, and it is doubtful if he will return soon.”
Responding to inquiries, the PPP leader further elaborated, “Given Nawaz Sharif’s current health status, there is a possibility that his health might deteriorate further.”
Nawaz Sharif’s political journey has been marked by significant legal and health challenges. Following his disqualification by the Supreme Court in 2016 due to the concealment of assets, Nawaz Sharif stepped down from the position of Prime Minister. Subsequently, he faced convictions in the Al-Azizia and Aveinfeild Apartment cases initiated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak. Appeals against these convictions are presently pending in relevant courts.
Earlier reports had suggested a potential return date of October 15 for Nawaz Sharif, a detail reportedly discussed among Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, and close family members in London. This proposed date had been aligned with the plan for the PML-N supremo to return to Pakistan in mid-October.
However, there has been a recent alteration in the plans following an announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) indicating that elections could not be conducted within a 90-day window. Insider sources conveyed that the decision to postpone Nawaz Sharif’s return to mid-October was influenced not by the ECP announcement, but rather by advice from party loyalists. This advice considered the extreme weather conditions of September, deeming mid-October a more suitable period for large-scale political gatherings.
Shehbaz Sharif, after handing over governance responsibilities to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, arrived in London last Sunday to engage in discussions with his elder brother Nawaz Sharif. A trusted source shared insights, stating, “The return date of Nawaz Sharif is being influenced by the severity of weather conditions. Although adjustments are possible, the current target is October 15, and further deliberations will center around this date.”