Nawaz Sharif takes front seat again

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif started on Monday formally calling the shots as he summoned a high-level meeting of the party to deliberate on the ongoing political situation, upcoming general elections and resumption of his political activities after returning to Pakistan.

Party officials revealed that the three-time former premier will hold a PML-N meeting on October 31 (today) in Pakistan after a gap of four years wherein it would contemplate on the political developments, election campaign and names of possible candidates for national and provincial assemblies, among other considerations.

Meanwhile, a party leader also shared that the PML-N leadership, including former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, Senior Vice President and Chief Organizer Maryam Nawaz and ex-Punjab chief minister Hamza Shahbaz would also mull on the schedule of party’s upcoming rallies and Nawaz’s possible meetings with the heads of other political parties, who remained a part of the last coalition government.

The official maintained that a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) President Asif Ali Zardari was likely to take place soon, saying the party would deliberate on all these issues in the meeting and decide the future course of action.

Nawaz, who returned to Lahore from London on October 21, is all set to formally take command of the party. He was previously stated by the party high-ups to not only lead the party but be the PML-N’s candidate for premiership for the fourth time.

Though there are still some legal hiccups in his way, the PML-N is determined to make him the premier again. The resumption of political activities is taking place on the heels of party supremo getting relief in his corruption references by the courts.

The -N sources noted that Nawaz had called a high-level meeting of the party, saying “he would chair the meeting after almost four years”.

Under the chairmanship of Nawaz, a PML-N leader said, the current political situation in the country, the upcoming general elections and other important issues will be discussed.

He said the meeting would consider the resumption of political activities of the party supremo, observing that there would be a detailed consultation on the launch of the PML-N’s election campaign and the election manifesto.

The initial schedule of Nawaz’s countrywide tours will be considered in the meeting, he said, adding that all the provincial presidents would also present the names of potential election candidates from their respective provinces and constituencies.

Previously, when Nawaz was abroad and Shehbaz led the ruling alliance, the party leadership visited him in London to seek guidance on political, economic and constitutional issues.

Key decisions such as deliberating on the name of the army chief to replacing former finance minister Miftah Ismail with Ishaq Dar, among other matters, were also discussed in the huddles.

Even being the prime minister, Shehbaz never hesitated to express that his elder brother would come back, take charge of the party, lead the election campaign and, hopefully, become the premier with the support of the people in the elections scheduled for the last week of January 2024.

Since his arrival, Nawaz hasn’t yet met any bigwig of other political party as his first priority was to get relief in his cases pending for years.

In 2019, the PML-N supremo was allowed to travel abroad on medical grounds for four weeks as he served sentence in the Al-Azizia reference.

On October 24, the caretaker Punjab government suspended Nawaz’s sentence in the Al-Azizia reference, saying the case had been forwarded to the court.

The former premier was convicted in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references in 2018 and his cases are currently being heard by the Islamabad High Court.

The PML-N and PPP spokespersons were approached for comments but no reply was received till the filing of the story.

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