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Nawaz Sharif’s Vow to Return Pakistan in the Wake of Changing Geopolitical Dynamics

The news of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's return to Pakistan on October 21 represents a major change in the nation's dynamic political environment. Let’s look at the variables that will affect Nawaz Sharif's return and its possible outcomes.

Nawaz Sharif’s homecoming occurs at a time when Pakistan is dealing with significant political and economic difficulties. Currently, there is a great deal of division inside Pakistan’s governmental institutions due to Imran Khan’s public image. It would not be simple for Nawaz Sharif to negotiate these complicated dynamics since his comeback to power depends on it.

PTI Chairman, Imran Khan at the time of his premiership had been able to solidify his position in Pakistan’s political landscape because to Nawaz Sharif’s absence from the nation for the previous four years. Khan’s administration has been dogged by accusations of poor management and economic turbulence despite his original anti-establishment attitude and pledges of reform. Average people are suffering as a result of the huge depreciation of the Pakistani rupee and the sharp increase in inflation, which has reached 40%. Many find it impossible to even pay their power bills.

Surprisingly, public polls and media reports indicate that Pakistanis have primarily switched their criticism away from Imran Khan and placed the responsibility for the recent inflation issue on Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz’s brother and head of the PML-N. While getting ready to return to the nation, Nawaz Sharif has a sizable task as a result of this change in popular opinion.

There are splits within the PML-N itself. The party is divided between Shehbaz Sharif’s camp and Maryam Nawaz’s camp, with Shehbaz Nawaz’s team advocating a confrontational strategy with the establishment in an effort to achieve “civil supremacy” and Shehbaz Sharif’s camp seeking a cooperation with the military in order to gain power and patronage. A smaller group in the party, which includes Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail, are still angry over how the Sharif brothers treated them.

Nawaz Sharif will face several challenges, including restructuring his party and developing a new political platform. Despite being in power after toppling Imran Khan, the PML-N’s failure to mount a strong campaign during the Punjab by-elections in 2022 exposed its organizational flaws. Imran Khan’s claim to be the most well-liked leader in the biggest province of Pakistan was strengthened by this defeat.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in especially among urban, middle-class, and young voters, continues to be a viable political choice despite Imran Khan’s present detention and efforts to undermine his party. Even though Imran Khan is unable to actively campaign, it is anticipated that his fans would show their support at the polls, as was the case in the 1970 election when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had a comparable level of support, particularly in Punjab.

The part played by the establishment in Nawaz Sharif’s political ascent is one important aspect that is yet unknown. If the military steps in to support him, it may cast doubt on the validity of his election triumph and fuel further unrest. Additionally, Nawaz Sharif may have opportunity to put his vision for regional commerce into practice and reorient Pakistan’s foreign policy as a result of the shifting geopolitical landscape, which sees Gulf nations collaborating with India. This policy change, meanwhile, could encounter opposition from the public and from inside the nation.

Having said that, Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan is a complicated and diverse phenomenon that poses both substantial problems and possible possibilities. The balance of power, public opinion, and the involvement of important institutions will all play crucial roles in deciding the direction of events in the next months, which will continue to make Pakistan’s political landscape unclear. In this constantly shifting political environment, Sharif’s return represents the start of an arduous trip, whose end is impossible to forecast.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance

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