ISLAMABAD: The founding leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party may return to the country from self-exile in January, said a senior federal minister on Tuesday, adding the country could witness the dissolution of assemblies by June next year.
Nawaz Sharif, who is the elder brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, was banned from political office for life by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in April 2017. He was also convicted by a local accountability court in a corruption reference the same year.
In November 2019, the three-time former PM left Pakistan on medical bail and has since not returned. He says the cases against him are politically motivated and claims innocence.
Discussing Pakistan’s current political situation on a talk show on Geo News, the country’s economic affairs minister Ayaz Sadiq predicted Sharif’s return in the coming month.
“It seems that the assemblies would be dissolved between March and June 2023,” he said in response to a question.
Sadiq said Sharif would return “before the award of tickets” ahead of the next general elections to “reorganize the party.”
Asked if he would return to Pakistan in December, the minister said: “No, in January.”
Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan has demanded early elections in the country since he was driven out of power in a no-confidence vote this April. However, the government repeatedly said the elections would be held as per schedule toward the end of the next year.
More recently, some government ministers encouraged Khan and his party to get into political negotiations over the issue to reach some settlement with the government.
Sadiq’s statement implies the ruling coalition of Pakistan has started evaluating the possibility of getting into an election mode much earlier than previously thought.