Shehbaz Sharif’s remarks came at a public meeting in Kasur, some 50km from Lahore, on Sunday evening.
Nawaz Sharif, 73, has been living in self-imposed exile in the UK since November 2019. He was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018. He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills reference before he was allowed to proceed to London on “medical grounds”.
“Nawaz Sharif will be the next prime minister of Pakistan. He will serve the people as he had done before,” Shehbaz Sharif, 71, said.
He said his elder brother (Nawaz) would be the prime minister of Pakistan for the fourth time and would ‘change the country’s destiny’ by boosting agriculture, industry, and infrastructure.
He said Pakistan saw phenomenal progress in Nawaz Sharif’s last tenure 2013-17 and improved relations with countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Turkiye while former premier Imran Khan had damaged Pakistan’s relations with these countries.
Shehbaz said he would dissolve the assemblies on August 9, and the people of Pakistan would elect their government through a vote in November 2023.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has not yet announced the date of the general election.
Since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has been sentenced to three years in the Toshakhana (national treasury gifts) case, it is believed that the military establishment will now manage to get ‘desired results’ in the upcoming general elections.
Some ruling PML-N leaders, including interior minister Rana Sanaullah, have linked Nawaz Sharif’s return to the change of command in the apex court.
“Nawaz Sharif will return to the country once he gets relief in cases he is convicted of,” a senior leader of the Punjab chapter of PML-N told PTI on Monday.
He said no assurances had been given to the Sharifs on this by the establishment as yet, and the situation would be clear once the caretaker set-up is installed.
“After Prime Minister Shehbaz’s statement that the election will be held as per the digital census conducted earlier this year, it means the elder Sharif may get more time to settle his cases before booking a flight back to Pakistan,” he said.
PML-N’s former federal minister Talal Chaudhry has linked the holding of upcoming polls with the return of Nawaz Sharif.
“The moment Nawaz Sharif boards a plane to Pakistan, it should be seen as a sign of elections taking place in the country,” Chaudhry said and added that Nawaz Sharif would not only lead the election campaign but would also be the only party’s candidate for prime minister.