Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has once again been re-elected as the leader of the ruling party – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Sharif had been forced to step down from his position after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him.
Sharif is a powerful politician in Pakistan. He was elected to serve as the Prime Minister of the country for three terms. He served from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 to October 1999. He was elected again in 2013. However, he has never served a full term as the nation’s top leader. He is the leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
In 1999, he was replaced due to a bloodless military coup orchestrated by General Musharraf. He is the 18th person to serve as the PM for Pakistan. None of his predecessors have ever completed a full term as Prime Ministers.
He has also been the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1985 to 1990. He is Pakistan's longest-serving Prime Minister despite never completing a term.
In July 2017, he was forced to resign as the PM after the Supreme Court disqualified him from the office. The ruling was in connection to the 2015 Panama Leaks that linked Sharif’s family to offshore companies. The Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 2,14,488 offshore entities. Journalists who investigated them found that many of these transactions were legal. However, some of the shell companies that had been set up were indulging in illegal activities. Sharif was also forced to step down as President of PML-N.
After his resignation, Sharif’s political party, PML-N announced that his wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, would stand in the by-elections to take over the seat that was vacated by the former Prime Minister. She won the seat after a closely fought election.
Recently, the ruling party (PML-N) passed the Election Bill 2017 through the Senate. This controversial bill allows politicians disqualified from holding public office to head a political party. This paved the way for Sharif to re-take his position as the President of PML-N.
The ruling party wasted little time and elected Sharif to be the leader just a day after the law was amended. A victorious Sharif told reporters after his election, “There have been attempts again and again to exit me, but you will always keep giving me an entry again and again. I congratulate that you’re bringing Nawaz Sharif back with full force.”
Within the party, nobody emerged as a contender to challenge Sharif to take over the party leadership. Sharif has also made it clear that he will not be fading into the background and will be fighting any charges brought to him by the court.
Our assessment is that Sharif is once again the de-facto Prime Minister of Pakistan. The nation’s current Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is a longtime ally of Nawaz Sharif and a loyalist. Additionally, the Sharif has taken steps to ensure that the family remains a major political force in Pakistan for decades to come. His daughter, Maryam, has been groomed to take over from her father. Sharif is defiantly here to stay. We feel that the issues of corruption that Sharif was implicated on did not hold ground when it came to real politik. It is also evident that the preference for Sharif family is quite strong.