Ex-Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif set to retake helm of PML-N amidst internal strife

Nawaz, 74, will be elected president of the ruling party on May 11 in a meeting of the party leadership.
Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz SharifPhoto | PTI

LAHORE: 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 amid internal strife, seven years after he relinquished the post after being disqualified by the apex court.

Nawaz, 74, 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 Nawaz as premier and party president for his alleged corruption in cases related to the Panama Papers revelations about his illegal wealth stashed abroad.

He relinquished his position within the party following his disqualification, which also led to his departure from the prime minister's office.

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 today 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 Nawaz on his return from China to accept the president's office of the party.

Nawaz is currently on a five-day private visit to China.

"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 (Nawaz's) 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.

Nawaz 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 at the Centre.

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