ISLAMABAD - The coalition government is working on a plan to make certain amendments in the laws that would help repeal the ban imposed on Nawaz Sharif by a Supreme Court judgement in the Panama Papers case against him as the PML-N supremo plans to return to Pakistan before the general elections.

Nawaz is likely to make his return to Pakistan ahead of the general elections as PML-N leaders think his presence in the country is necessary to stop the PTI juggernaut. In the face of the rising popularity of the PTI chairman Imran Khan, who was ousted as the prime minister in April this year, the entire PML-N leadership is unanimous that the party needs Nawaz to be in Pakistan ahead of the polls if the party wants to score a victory. The embarrassing defeat in the Punjab by-polls has consolidated this view within the party that second-tier leadership like Maryam Nawaz and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif cannot compete with Khan’s charisma.

Nawaz has been living in London since November 2019 for medical treatment. Nawaz was sentenced in 2018, to a total of 11 years of imprisonment in Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield properties references. His sentence was suspended in 2019 by the Lahore High Court on medical grounds and he was permitted to fly to London to seek treatment, after which he did not return. Nawaz’s passport expired in February 2021. However, the coalition government issued a fresh passport to the elder Sharif in April this year.

Now the party desperately feels that his presence in the country ahead of the general elections is necessary. Speaking to a press conference in Lahore on Monday, Federal Minister Javed Latif also revealed that former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader Nawaz Sharif will return to the country in September. Building the case of Nawaz’s return to the country — who is in a self-imposed exile in London on medical grounds —, the federal minister said that the people of Pakistan are wishing for the return of the former prime minister. He added that it was impossible to have a ‘level playing field’ in the country’s political landscape, in his absence. The PML-N leader also said that he would not allow the party supremo to go behind bars after his return. The party propagates that Nawaz was ousted from the premiership on former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar’s orders.

The biggest challenge for the party and Nawaz Sharif is how to avoid arrest after his return to the country and deal with the cases. According to the sources, the legal team of PML-N is working on amendments in the relevant laws (CrPC) by which Nawaz Sharif could be given relief at least to the extent that he is not arrested immediately after his arrival in the country. Once he is given relief, he can address public rallies and lead the party in the general elections.

The party also sees PTI chief Imran Khan’s possible disqualification in prohibited funding cases and Toshakhana reference an opportunity to engage PTI and discuss with it to repeal Article 62, 63 of the Constitution. The PML-N believes that Imran Khan would be disqualified in the two cases and it would open doors for discussion to repeal the articles of the Constitution under which a public office holder is disqualified for politics for life time.