Islamabad: Three-time Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif landed in the capital Islamabad ahead of national elections, local media reported, ending four years of self-imposed exile, as he is set to kick-start his party’s campaign. The 73-year-old veteran politician will lead a rally in his hometown of Lahore after his plane’s arrival in Islamabad with 194 people from his party and media organisations, news agency Reuters reported. Pakistani television channels showed live images of Nawaz Sharif’s plane landing at the airport.
Nawaz Sharif had not set foot in Pakistan since he left for London in 2019 to receive medical treatment while serving a 14-year prison sentence for corruption. His convictions are still in force, but a court barred authorities from arresting him until he is to appear in court.
The politician cannot run again for election or hold public office because of his convictions but plans to appeal the ban as his party says that he aims to become prime minister for a fourth time. This comes as Imran Khan remains popular despite being in jail following his ouster from the prime minister’s office in 2022. Imran Khan is also disqualified from the elections by virtue of his graft conviction in August, which he has appealed.
On Pakistan’s economy, Nawaz Sharif said before boarding the plane in comments telecast by local TV channels, “It is very sad to see that things have deteriorated so badly.”