Nawaz Sharif, the three-time former Pakistan Prime Minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has landed at Dubai International Airport and is scheduled to return to his home country in a matter of hours after four years of self-exile.
Sharif has just landed in Islamabad aboard a chartered plane. His legal advisors are set to rendezvous with him to gather his biometric information, a crucial step in complying with the bail requirements set by the Islamabad High Court on October 19. After a short sojourn in Islamabad, he intends to journey to Lahore, where he will be delivering a speech at the historic Minar-e-Pakistan during a planned rally.
Sharif is anticipated to deliver a sizable homecoming rally in Lahore on Saturday. His return coincides with Pakistan grappling with heightened political turmoil and one of its most severe economic crises. Sharif also expressed a desire for improvements in the country during his absence, as he had left Pakistan in 2019, two years after resigning from his position due to a corruption conviction.
Sharif’s last term in office, which began with a resounding electoral victory in 2013, was marked by significant upheavals. It began with an extended opposition-led siege of Islamabad and reached its climax when he was disqualified by the Supreme Court in 2017. This court ruling followed several months of hearings in a case prompted by the “Panama Papers” revelations, which concerned alleged corruption during his previous two terms as Prime Minister.
Four years ago, Sharif departed Pakistan to avoid a jail sentence, citing health reasons, during a period of strained relations with the influential military. Now, he has made his way back to Pakistan, leading to speculation that his return to politics might be the result of a negotiated arrangement with the military, potentially paving the way for him to become Prime Minister once more.
The PML-N party is gearing up for a significant reception for Sharif. Party leaders and members are congregating in Lahore from various parts of Pakistan to participate in the party’s large-scale demonstration of strength. The party has also made arrangements for multiple special train services to ensure that its supporters can attend the Minar-e-Pakistan rally.