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Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif to retake PML-N helm amid strife

Nawaz Sharif relinquished the post seven years ago after being disqualified by the Supreme Court following Panama Papers revelations about his alleged illegal wealth

File photo of former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif speaks at the party office of Pakistan Muslim League (N), at Model Town in Lahore, Pakistan, February 9, 2024. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

By: Shajil Kumar

PAKISTAN’S three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is all set to retake the helm of the ruling PML-N next month to guide the party as it battles internal strife.

Sharif (74) relinquished the post seven years ago after being disqualified by the apex court over corruption allegations.

He will be elected president of the ruling party on May 11 in a meeting of the party leadership, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader told PTI.

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Sharif as premier and party president after the Panama Papers revelations about his illegal wealth stashed abroad.

He had relinquished his party position as well as the prime minister’s office after the verdict.

PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah told a press conference that a decision to make Nawaz the president of the party again was taken at a party meeting on Friday.

“A resolution was passed at the party meeting to make the elder Sharif PML-N president to undo the injustice meted out to him (Nawaz) in 2017 by the Supreme Court,” Sanaullah, a former interior minister, said.

The party will request Sharif on his return from his China visit to accept the party post.

“Nawaz Sharif was removed from the party president’s office through a conspiracy. Now Nawaz has been acquitted in all (corruption) cases, he should again take up the party’s reins,” Sanaullah said and added the party would be re-organised under his leadership.

Sanaullah’s announcement comes amidst internal tensions within the ruling party in Punjab and at the federal level, The Express Tribune newspaper said.

Several prominent figures within the party, including Sanaullah, portfolio-less federal minister Javed Latif, senator Javed Abbasi, and former senator Asif Saeed Kirmani, have publicly criticised the leadership.

Their remarks have ranged from questioning cabinet formations to expressing disillusionment with the party’s alignment with the establishment, straying from its “vote ko izzat do” (respect the vote) slogan.

The airing of these grievances has tarnished the party’s reputation as a proponent of democracy.

Following his return to Pakistan after a four-year self-exile in London in October last year, Nawaz got a clean chit in mega corruption cases allegedly with the blessings of the powerful military establishment.

He was all set to become prime minister for the fourth time but his party failed to get a clear majority in the National Assembly on its own in the February 8 general elections.

Sharif then allowed his younger brother and the incumbent party president Shehbaz Sharif – who is considered the favourite of the military establishment – to lead a six-party coalition government. (PTI)

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