Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif may end his self-exile in London and return to the country in December to lead his party in the next general election, a media report said on Saturday.
On Friday, it was reported that the 72-year-old three-time former Prime Minister was given a diplomatic passport by the PMN-L party-led government.
A PML-N party insider, privy to the matter, has expressed confidence that Mr. Sharif will finally return in December but said the long-anticipated homecoming will not signal the government’s intentions to concede on the issue of early elections as demanded by Imran Khan, the Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The rumors that Mr. Sharif would return only close to elections to run a campaign were not true "as his return does not in any way means that PML-N has agreed to any early elections", The Express Tribune newspaper quoted the party source as saying on the condition of anonymity.
The former Prime Minister is living in a self-exile in London since 2019. In December 2018, he was sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of corruption.
“The party will not concede on the matter of early elections, come what may. The PML-N, even if it loses its government, will not agree to this demand, and this is final,” he added.
He however added that the elder Sharif’s return would mark the start of a mass contact drive, which would be followed by a workers' convention and other activities to invigorate party workers and supporters.
He said that the party will try to fully utilise the remainder of the tenure to bring back the swing votes.
Former Prime Minister Khan has been demanding fresh elections after he was ousted in April. The term of the current National Assembly will end in August 2023.