Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is eyeing a political comeback in the country after his self-imposed exile to London, will return to Islamabad with 'protective bail' and surrender to the court after his reception, said his party's Punjab president Rana Sanaullah.
Nawaz left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission to go abroad for his treatment. He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills case when he was allowed to proceed to London in 2019 on "medical grounds".
He was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018 and was disqualified by the Supreme Court for life for concealing assets. However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo is still considered as a crowd-puller for the upcoming general election.
Nawaz will return to Pakistan on October 21 and was ready to face "all kinds of circumstances" said his brother Shehbaz Sharif. "Our legal team has made all the preparations regarding Nawaz Sharif’s protective bail. He will come back with a protective bail and surrender to the courts after his reception," said Sanaullah.
The PML-N leader also dispelled rumours of a possible agreement between the Pakistan military and the party, calling them "wrong and baseless."
Entire public waiting for Nawaz Sharif: Sanaullah
Sanaullah, the former interior minister of Pakistan, said that Nawaz's case against his convictions is based on facts and all citizens of the country are "waiting to welcome their leader".
"He’s coming to Lahore and will address the public at Minar-i-Pakistan. People from all walks of life and all over the country will come to Lahore. They will hear Nawaz live and the media will cover it throughout," he told reporters.
He also credited Nawaz for pulling the country out of crises like terrorism and that he will “give hope to the people” during his planned address in Lahore. Sanaullah also lambasted Imran Khan, asserting that Pakistan would have been in the G20 if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was not brought into power.
“In this current situation, Pakistan needs a leader who brings the country back on track and takes it out of this mess," the PML-N leader said.
Setback for Nawaz Sharif ahead of return
In February 2020, Nawaz was declared an absconder. Later in the same year, an accountability court declared him a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles reference. Now, as he returns to Pakistan after almost four years, Nawaz Sharif is facing new problems that can his hopes of a political comeback in jeopardy.
After a recent landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, cases of at least 80 high-profile politicians related to corruption would be reopened. These are among the hundreds of cases closed as a result of amendments made to the anti-corruption laws by the previous government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by Nawaz.
An apex court bench, headed by former Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, had on September 15 declared the amendments to the anti-graft laws void and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to revive within seven days the closed cases against public office holders.
According to official sources, about 2,000 cases, which were earlier closed, are being reopened against officials and businessmen after the intervention by the apex court. Former premiers Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif would also face cases that were closed due to the amendments made by the government led by the PML-N party before it recommended the dissolution of the National Assembly last month ahead of the general elections.
The elder Sharif was also seeking to challenge his lifetime disqualification under Article 62 of the Constitution. They would have gotten the opportunity to fulfill their political ambitions, but the Supreme Court in August rejected a law that allows politicians to review the apex court's judgements in case of disqualifications.