Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister For Fourth Time: Political Opponents Dismiss PML-N's 'Wishful Thinking'

Former Pakistan Democratic Movement allies and opponents say Nawaz Sharif must first the law and then the public before dreaming of becoming prime minister again

Nawaz Sharif Prime Minister For Fourth Time: Political Opponents Dismiss PML-N's 'Wishful Thinking'

As the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) scrambles to organise a grand welcome for its party supremo Nawaz Sharif for his return to Pakistan on October 21, they anticipate that he will become the prime minister of the country for a fourth time after next year's elections. But the party's former political allies and opponents, viewing the matter from the sidelines, have termed these lofty dreams 'wishful thinking' at best.

Former prime minister and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif recently confirmed that his brother, deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, will return to Pakistan as planned on October 21 to end a four-year-long exile. Senior party leader Khawaja Asif followed that up on Saturday by remarking that after his return, Nawaz Sharif will become the prime minister of Pakistan for a fourth time.

But this new spurt in confidence amongst the PML-N camp has been met with scepticism by other major political forces in the country who dismissed statements from Asif as a 'political statement', noting that there was a long way to go for someone of the likes of Nawaz Sharif from returning to Pakistan and then making his way to the prime minister's office.

"This could be a wish of the party workers," remarked former senator and Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Central General Secretary Nayyer Hussain Bokhari while talking to The Friday Times

The PPP was a major ally for the PML-N in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) led government, which took over the country's reins after ousting former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. The PPP held key positions in the PDM cabinet, with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari enjoying the important portfolio of Foreign Minister and senior PPP member Sherry Rehman taking charge of the Climate Change Ministry.

Bokhari, meanwhile, said that upon Nawaz's return to Pakistan, the one thing that is certain to be waiting for him would be pending legal cases -- including those where he has been declared an absconder and proclaimed offender for extended absence. Only when they have been dealt with can Nawaz and the PML-N move on to do other things. 

Another long-time ally, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), shed light on the length and weight of the journey from Lahore Airport to the Prime Minister House in Islamabad that awaits Nawaz upon his return. 

MQM-P's senior leader Zahid Malik, shared that the people will decide if Nawaz will get his 'wish' to become prime minister of Pakistan for a fourth tenure. 

"[The] mandate is in the hands of the masses," he highlighted.

Khawaja Asif, he said, may have learnt astrology and hence has started making claims about what his party's leader will achieve, he added sarcastically.

Talking to The Friday Times, another group that was allied with the PML-N under the umbrella of the PDM, the Jamiat Ulema Islam Fazl (JUI-F), said that the first challenge that the PML-N will have to overcome is to get Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan, suggesting that the task was far simpler than just boarding a flight bound for Lahore.

Former Senate deputy chairman and JUI-F senior leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri reminded the PML-N that becoming the prime minister for a fourth time "could be the wish of the party, but first, he (Nawaz Sharif) should ensure his return, then party workers can make such claims."

Reacting to Khawaja Asif's statement, Jamaat-e-Islami Spokesperson Rashid Umar Aulak told The Friday Times that there can be no fourth-time prime minister without an amendment to the Constitution first.

"He (Nawaz Sharif) should first ensure his return [to Pakistan] then make such tall claims," he said.

With PTI positioned as the main opponent of the PML-N, it had strong views over Asif's statement.

When contacted, senior PTI member and lawyer Shoaib Shaheen, on behalf of the PTI, expressed that the PML-N would not be able to face the public's wrath during its campaign.

"It [PML-N] has started making claims about [Nawaz becoming] the fourth prime minister. First, they should ensure Nawaz Sharif's return, then face the public in the campaign," he said, adding, "Such claims have no value under the current circumstances."