Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has returned to Pakistan after a four-year self-imposed exile in London. He is making his fourth attempt to regain power, but there are doubts about his eligibility to contest the upcoming elections in January 2024. Geo News anchorperson and political analyst Shahzeb Khanzada suggests that legal hurdles might prevent him from running.
In 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office due to his involvement in the Panama Papers case.
Subsequently, in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that individuals disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution cannot lead a political party. In the same year, an accountability court sentenced Nawaz Sharif to a ten-year imprisonment for owning assets beyond his known income and an additional one-year imprisonment for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau.
The PML-N leader faced more legal challenges when he was sentenced to seven years in prison along with hefty fines in 2018. His health concerns led to a court allowing him to travel abroad for medical treatment in 2019, but he did not return as promised.
Now, at the age of 73, Nawaz Sharif has made a dramatic return to Pakistan. While his convictions still stand, the Islamabad High Court temporarily barred authorities from arresting him. He intends to appeal these convictions and is supported by his party’s ambition to become prime minister for a fourth time.
However, Khanzada raises doubts about Nawaz Sharif’s ability to contest elections. He points out that even if the court judgments are suspended, it’s unlikely that a ruling on his appeals and acquittal can happen within such a short time frame. This presents a significant challenge for his political comeback.
Regarding the current political landscape, Khanzada acknowledges that Imran Khan, the Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, remains a popular leader, despite facing opposition from state institutions. Khanzada notes that Nawaz Sharif’s return is different this time, as he is confronted with a series of challenges.
Commenting on the performance of the PML-N-led coalition alliance, Khanzada expresses disappointment, stating that the previous government failed to deliver on its promises and left behind high inflation.