Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan from London on Monday, putting to rest all speculation by political rivals. He had left for the UK about a month ago to see his wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
All other members of his family, including daughter Maryam and sons Hussain and Hassan, are also in London and none of them accompanied the ex-PM on his return.
PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani told reporters that Sharif will appear before the accountability court in Islamabad tomorrow in connection with the corruption references filed against him. He said the former prime minister will hold a press conference after his appearance in the court.
Party sources said the decision to return to Pakistan came during a one-on-one meeting between Nawaz and Shehbaz. Prior to that, at least three consultative sessions took place between the former PM, the incumbent PM, the Punjab CM, the finance minister, and the foreign minister, but no decision on Sharif’s return was taken, it is learnt. Sharif did not speak his mind on when to return home till he discussed the issue with Shehbaz, sources said.
It is still unclear whether or not the ex-PM and Dar would appear before an accountability court on Tuesday, where a Supreme Court-mandated inquiry is under way against them in connection with the Panama Papers case.
Even though some unconfirmed reports did rounds that the premier and Dar would either appear in person before the court, party leaders declined to confirm this claim or even to speak on the matter.
A PML-N lawmaker, requesting anonymity, said the former PM is concerned by what he believes is the negative media campaign against him and his family triggered by Nawaz’s flying to London at a time when references against his family were pending in NAB.
By returning home, Sharif wants to convey a powerful message – that he is still politically relevant and is not deterred by the cases against him and his family members.
Even though Sharif’s arrival in Pakistan is a welcoming development for the party’s rank and file, top government functionaries at the centre and Punjab are concerned that Sharif’s critical stances on the security establishment and judiciary could mount problems for the ruling lot.
During huddles in London, the deposed premier was reportedly advised by the Abbasi, Shehbaz and Dar to exercise restraint and caution while commenting on state institutions, but Sharif has not paid heed to this suggestion.