Ousted three times Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif may get another shot
As Pakistan prepares for its upcoming general elections the return of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from exile has positioned him as a likely victor challenging his rival ex-premier Imran Khan.
Khan faces legal challenges and remains incarcerated after clashing with Pakistan's influential military. In contrast, Sharif, who has had historical conflicts with the military, recently had corruption charges overturned, suggesting a temporary reconciliation with the establishment.
The 74-year-old Sharif, eyeing a fourth term sees this election as an opportunity to vindicate himself after his 2017 premiership was curtailed by corruption allegations. Moreover, it could pave the way for consolidating his family's political influence, potentially enabling his daughter Maryam Nawaz to assume a prominent role in Pakistani politics.
Having experienced military pressure and legal battles that prematurely terminated his previous three terms as prime minister, Sharif's political trajectory has been marked by resilience. However, the last two years have seen extraordinary political turmoil in Pakistan. Economic growth has stagnated, Khan campaigns from prison, and a surge in militant attacks has heightened political instability.
If elected, Sharif would confront a military seemingly increasing in influence and contend with Khan's supporters, who claim their party has been unfairly marginalized. Khan's recent imprisonment in three separate cases, ranging from corruption to revealing official secrets and unlawful marriage, has intensified political tensions.
Sharif has shown little inclination for reconciliation with Khan, attributing his ouster six years ago to Khan's actions. Addressing supporters, Sharif remarked, 'What you sow, you shall reap.' Despite being convicted on corruption charges in 2018 and sentenced to ten years in prison, Sharif was allowed to leave for London in 2019 for medical treatment. Declared a fugitive, a court granted him temporary protection from arrest last year, signaling a potential thaw in relations between Sharif and the Pakistani establishment.