In a monumental moment in Pakistan’s political landscape, PML-N’s charismatic leader and ex Pakistan primer Nawaz Sharif, is poised to return today, following a self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom spanning four years. The party is fervently rallying its supporters, urging them to congregate at Lahore’s iconic Minar-i-Pakistan, signifying their unwavering loyalty to the party, which has been dismissed as ‘irrelevant’ by its competitors.
Distinguished PML-N stalwart and former Pakistan finance minister, Ishaq Dar, confirmed Sharif’s return from Dubai via a chartered plane, scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Sharif is anticipated to touch down in Islamabad around 12:30 pm before embarking on his journey to Lahore after a brief stop. It’s suggested that he may first visit his Jati Umra residence before gracing Minar-i-Pakistan later in the day.
This strategic landing in Islamabad serves the dual purpose of adhering to bail conditions, earlier granted by the Islamabad High Court, and asserting the party’s enduring influence, especially in Lahore, which once was its stronghold.
Nawaz Sharif’s return is a pivotal event, coinciding with the impending general elections in a few months. He is set to lead the party’s campaign and potentially ascend to the premiership for the fourth time.
In Lahore, the PML-N’s leadership, including prominent figures like Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and Hamza Shehbaz, worked tirelessly to ensure the smooth departure of party workers from various regions such as Balochistan, Sindh, and Gilgit-Baltistan. Those coming from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab are scheduled to depart on Saturday morning. The trio also inspected the arrangements at Minar-i-Pakistan.
To infuse enthusiasm into the local workforce, the party organized a mesmerizing qawwali night at the venue. Staying accommodations and sustenance were meticulously arranged for the arrivals on Friday night, though the ambitious target of assembling one million attendees prompted the placement of only 10,000 chairs at the site. An extensive security presence, including thousands of Punjab police officials in uniform and plainclothes, will be in place to safeguard the event. The provincial caretaker government, under Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, has extended its full support to the PML-N for this political spectacle.
The PML-N has unequivocally communicated to ticket aspirants that their candidature is contingent upon their ability to bring a substantial number of people to the venue on Saturday. The party has exclusively reserved the platform for Mr. Nawaz Sharif to address the public gathering.
Furthermore, to add a touch of grandeur, the PML-N has arranged for two small aircraft to shower rose petals in Lahore on Saturday, symbolizing Sharif’s triumphant return.
In the realm of politics, Nawaz Sharif’s return comes at a strategic juncture, with his long-time rival, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, incarcerated, and an apparent alignment between the PML-N and the establishment. This has led to the PTI branding Sharif as the “new blue-eyed boy of the system,” a sharp reversal of roles that has not gone unnoticed.
As the nation awaits the return of this formidable political figure, Safdar Awan, Mr. Nawaz’s son-in-law, rallied at Jati Umra Raiwind late on Friday night, demanding accountability for the retired generals and judges responsible for Nawaz Sharif’s ousting in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad International Airport has been placed on standby, ensuring it remains operational on Saturday, despite its usual weekly holiday. This is in preparation for Mr. Nawaz’s arrival in the capital around noon. The former prime minister is set to leave Dubai on a chartered flight, Flydubai (FZ4525), and land in Islamabad at 12:30 pm before departing for Lahore around 2 pm.
The anticipation and fervor surrounding Nawaz Sharif’s return have captured the nation’s attention, marking a pivotal moment in Pakistan’s political history.