The return of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo to Pakistan on Saturday, ending a four-year self-imposed exile and then holding a massive power show in Lahore, established his credentials as a major political leader who can still pull a crowd. While this is good for the politics of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N, other major national parties said it does not directly translate into any benefit for the public and the country at large, and the only 'solution' to the problems was holding general elections.
This was stated by political opponents who reacted to Nawaz Sharif's speech at Minar-e-Pakistan on Saturday evening.
Nawaz had touched down in Islamabad on Saturday afternoon as he ended his four-year exile, which was spent in the United Kingdom. It had followed his conviction in the Panama Case, a jail term and lifetime disqualification from contesting polls in the country.
Thus, Saturday presented an emotional moment for Nawaz and his family.
But other major political parties in the country suggested that the show in Lahore seemed to benefit Nawaz and his party, but if he wants to solve the problems of the public, he should perhaps join them in demanding a date for elections.
Political leaders, after spending time in exile, always come up with tall claims, but the implementation of their claims rarely materialises, they said.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senior leader Taj Haider, while commenting on Nawaz Sharif's near hour-long speech at Minar-e-Pakistan, told The Friday Times that the points made by the deposed prime minister were good for his supporters. At the same time, his party will benefit from the return of their supremo.
"It is welcoming for every exiled leader to return to the country," he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif was seemingly different from his usual self in Saturday's speech.
At this juncture, he said, political parties should concentrate on conducting polls in the country.
"Elections should be the foremost priority of all the political parties," Haider commented.
During his speech, Nawaz Sharif had a momentary slip when he named Imran Khan but then quickly recanted and said he did not wish to name any political leader, party or group as he did not believe in pursuing politics of vengeance.
However, with several indirect jibes directed towards the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the party had a hard-hitting reaction to his first speech after returning to the country.
PTI leader, Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, told The Friday Times that the facility and protocol afforded to an absconding convict like Nawaz Sharif was all because of a deal with Pakistan's all-powerful establishment.
"Nawaz Sharif should be treated as a criminal in the country (given that he remains convicted and his sentence has not been overturned)," Shaheen said, adding that it was the country which would face its consequences.
In such a scenario, if Nawaz Sharif actively participates in the upcoming polls, it would serve to make them controversial and thus create an imbalance in society.
"These looters and plunderers would never bring positive change in the country," Shaheen commented.
In his speech, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif touched on different matters but did not speak much about the upcoming elections. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced a tentative schedule for the polls at the end of January.
Having been thrice elected as prime minister, the PML-N supremo claimed that he does not believe in political victimisation or vengeance and wants to work towards the country's economic recovery.
Having taken off from Dubai with a substantial entourage, Sharif arrived by chartered flight to Islamabad, after which he addressed a mammoth rally in his hometown, Lahore.