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Nawaz Sharif criticised for using state machinery to stage political comeback

Islamabad: As Nawaz Sharif returned home, his rivals criticised the former Pakistan prime minister for using unconstitutional means and the state machinery to stage a political comeback.

Sharif, 73, the three-time prime minister and supremo of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), returned to Pakistan on Saturday, ending his four-year self-imposed exile in London.

His nemesis Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led the barrage by saying that a “coward fugitive is returning under judicial asylum”.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the PTI led by jailed former premier Imran Khan said that the “state has buried shame, modesty, law and justice with its own hands” by allowing the ‘national criminal’s return’ from London.

“The nation is ready to ‘welcome’ its criminal who has been ‘adopted’ by the state,” the PTI spokesperson said, adding that the people will hold accountable the criminals who have robbed the nation from generation to generation.

The statement reiterated the demand that an immediate holding of transparent, free and fair elections can steer the country out of crisis. The elections are scheduled to take place in January 2024.

PTI secretary general Omar Ayub Khan said the convict was being unjustly and unlawfully facilitated in everything.

“A convicted prisoner got VVIP protocol and the State Room opened at Islamabad Airport to receive him,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s legal system has been completely destroyed by PML-N.

Commenting on photos of Sharif providing his biometrics at the airport, he said: “This picture is not only of Nawaz Sharif’s biometrics but of the funeral of Pakistan’s judicial system. The whole world had seen the coercion and treatment of Imran Khan for the same biometrics.’

PTI senior leader Moonis Elahi said Sharif’s return had been managed.

“Never in the history of Pakistan, a convicted absconder has been welcomed like this,” he said.

Apparently, he said, court staff went to the airport to get his biometric attendance done, while in sharp contrast, another prime minister (Imran Khan) was picked up from court while giving his biometrics for attendance.

Elahi claimed the Punjab government had instructed all deputy commissioners to provide transport as well as ensure the attendance of government employees such as ‘patwaris’ at the event.

“We welcome Nawaz Sharif back but it would have been far better if had come back through constitutional means,” PTI leader and former minister Ali Muhammad Khan said.

Pakistan Peoples Party leader Faisal Karim Kundi foresaw support of state machinery for Sharif in elections and warned of consequences.

“He was facilitated by the Punjab government on return…There would be anarchy if Sharif was also facilitated in elections,” he warned.

As the country continues to be torn apart by divisive politics, PTI’s Ali Muhammad Khan also suggested President Arif Alvi arrange a meeting between Imran Khan and Sharif to end political tension and heal the country.

‘The president should call Nawaz and Imran and hold a meeting,’ Khan told Geo News, adding that Alvi holds a unique position of serving on the top during the tenures of his party and his opponents.

However, given the polarisation Pakistan is going through at this juncture and the bitter past, it may be a far cry for enemies like Khan and Sharif to come together. Though Sharif in his address in Lahore on Saturday said he has no desire to seek revenge but wishes to end the country’s tough economic conditions and put it back on the path of growth.

(Published 22 October 2023, 10:58 IST)

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