Nawaz Sharif returns as PML-N President after six-year hiatus

In a significant political development, Nawaz Sharif has been re-elected unopposed as the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after a six-year gap. This decision comes following his acquittal last year in all corruption cases, a move that many anticipated would pave the way for his political resurgence.

A triumphant return
The announcement was made during the PML-N’s general council meeting, with the party sharing a video earlier in the day stating, “Lion is returning to take his rightful place at the top.” This symbolic statement underscored the anticipation and excitement among party supporters about Nawaz Sharif’s return to leadership.

Nawaz’s re-election marks his return to the party’s helm after he lost his position as president due to a Supreme Court ruling in the Panama Papers case six years ago. Addressing the charged crowd at the meeting, Nawaz Sharif expressed his elation, stating, “Saqib Nisar’s decision has been thrown into the dustbin.” He challenged those who had disqualified him, emphasising that he was back to lead the party once more.

Acknowledging loyalty and resilience
Nawaz took the opportunity to acknowledge the loyalty and resilience of his party members, particularly his brother, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. He commended PM Shehbaz for steadfastly holding the party banner through challenging times, despite numerous attempts to create discord between them. Nawaz revealed that PM Shehbaz had once been offered the prime minister’s position on the condition that he sidelined Nawaz, an offer the younger Sharif refused.

He also praised his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and his nephew, Hamza Shehbaz, for their bravery in facing multiple trials, including imprisonment, for the sake of the party and the country.

Economic optimism and future plans
Nawaz highlighted the economic progress made under his brother’s government and urged continued commitment to improving the country’s economic indicators. He acknowledged the tough times ahead but assured that prosperity was on the horizon if the party continued to work with dedication.

PM Shehbaz, speaking before Nawaz at the meeting, congratulated his brother on reassuming the party presidency. He expressed that the injustice faced by Nawaz in 2017 had been rectified, and those who tried to diminish Nawaz’s contributions to the nation were now disgraced. Shehbaz criticised the ‘baseless and politically motivated cases’ that led to Nawaz’s disqualification, highlighting the widespread acknowledgment of this injustice.

Criticism of political opponents
PM Shehbaz did not hold back in criticising the PTI founder Imran Khan, accusing him of orchestrating the alleged rigging in the 2018 general elections that turned Nawaz’s victory into a defeat. He also condemned Khan for allegedly criticising the army, which PM Shehbaz claimed was part of a broader attempt to undermine Nawaz’s achievements.

Electoral process and party unity
PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah provided a detailed account of the party’s electoral procedure during the general council meeting. He explained that PM Shehbaz had resigned as party president on May 11, citing conspiracies against Nawaz and fake cases as reasons for his resignation. Despite stepping down, PM Shehbaz was requested to hold the position until the election was conducted.

Sanaullah also mentioned that during the meeting, the PML-N’s election commission was appointed, and all procedural steps were duly followed. PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal congratulated the council on a successful election, emphasising the importance of holding accountable those who had previously targeted Nawaz and brought harm to the country.

Future prospects
The intra-party elections, held during the party’s general council meeting in Lahore, saw 11 members receive nomination papers for the top slot. Although there was speculation about a contest, Nawaz’s unopposed election was widely expected and celebrated.

Nawaz’s re-election coincided with the 26th anniversary of Pakistan becoming a nuclear power, a significant milestone that underscores the importance of strong leadership in the country’s political landscape. His return as the PML-N president symbolises not just a personal victory but also a reinvigoration of the party’s leadership and direction.

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