The Lion Returns

Six years after his removal, the man on whose name the Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz was founded, returned to the helm of his party among triumphant scenes. Surrounded by his family, party workers on senior political leaders, Nawaz Sharif became the president of the party unopposed.

The return to the perch is more significant once we consider how unlikely it was at one point. Disqualified from the position of Prime Minister by the Supreme Court, disqualified from holding public office or a party position for life, and in confinement, Nawaz Sharif seemed to be at the end of his political journey. Outside his detention, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) ran rampant. It enjoyed widespread power in the national and provincial assemblies, the support of key institutions, like the National Accountability Bureau – which was wielded like a punitive weapon - the Supreme Court, and a fawning social media fueled by well-run “media cells.”

On top of this lopsided position, there were concentrated attempts to divide the party by sequestering Shehbaz Sharif, and his power base, from his elder brother’s. Attempts backed by politically motivated cases and imprisonment of the Sharif family scions. From this position of apparent defeat, Nawaz Sharif, and PML-N as a whole have managed to pull off a political resurrection. For the veteran politician with a career spanning decades, this was not even his first resurrection. How fate changed for Nawaz Sharif is an open secret. Many of his fierce detractors – like the former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar – left office, the blatant political victimization by PTI reached a point where PML-N resolve started to harden, and perhaps most importantly, Imran Khan’s chaotic brand of politics ended up shooting itself in the foot. Resultantly, the patchwork of alliances and electables that constituted PTI started coming undone at the seams, and the May 9 riots dissolved the party into many threads. With the current PML-N government leading the economy back from the brink, consolidating diplomatic relations with international partners, and poised to undertake a difficult reform of our revenue collection, there couldn’t have been a better moment for Nawaz to return to the helm.

To drive this point home, the re-election was held on Youm-i-Takbeer, perhaps the most important achievement in PML-N history.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt