Islamabad, April 27
Pakistan's deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif will return from London next month after Eid to face the courts, a senior PML-N leader has said, a day after the new government issued a passport to the former three-time premier to come back to his home country.
The 72-year-old PML-N supremo, against whom several corruption cases were launched by the government of ex-prime minister Imran Khan, left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission to go abroad for his treatment.
Federal Minister Mian Javed Latif told reporters on Tuesday that the top Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader will return after Eid and lead the rallies in Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported on Wednesday.
“If not arrested upon arrival, Nawaz will most likely lead the rallies planned by the PML-N [to counter the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf gatherings]. These were supposed to be led by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz from May 6,” he said.
Eid will be celebrated in the first week of May.
The minister said the date of Sharif's return had not been finalised, but he would return next month.
“The party has planned a series of activities post-Mian saheb's return. If he is not arrested upon arrival, then Nawaz will lead the activities but if otherwise, then the activities will be put on hold,” he said.
Sharif was reportedly issued on Monday a passport by the new government headed by his younger brother, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Dispelling reports that Maryam, the daughter of Nawaz Sharif, was trying to flee the country, the minister said if she was allowed she would return from Saudi Arabia to lead the PML-N rallies.
Maryam who is the Vice President of the PML-N, has also sought permission from the court to fly abroad.
Minister Latif said if Maryam was not allowed to travel, she would continue holding as many constituency-level meetings as possible.
Maryam began her mobilisation drive on Tuesday, holding a party workers' meeting in the NA 128 area of Lahore which is the constituency of lawmaker Rohail Ashgar. She was accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz.
Laying out the schedule of rallies, Latif said the first rally was scheduled for May 6 in Attock, the second for May 8 in Okara, then two in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa before one on May 15 in Vehari in Punjab.
He said the schedule of the rallies was slightly different from what was previously known, adding that somewhere towards the last leg, the party would begin preparations to welcome Sharif.
Several corruption cases have been launched by the previous government of ex-prime minister Khan against Sharif since his ouster from the office by the Supreme Court in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case.
Before leaving for London, he had given an undertaking to the Lahore High Court to return to Pakistan, citing his record to face the process of law and justice within four weeks or as soon as he is declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors.
Sharif was also given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving seven-year imprisonment in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.
He had already challenged his both convictions in the Islamabad High Court, which would take up the matter once he appears before the court.
Sharif's return to Pakistan has made headlines in the country after Khan became the first premier in the country's history to be voted out of power through a no-confidence motion.
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