Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan became imminent as the judiciary removed all legal barriers on Thursday. He was granted protective bail in the notorious Al-Azizia and Avenfield graft cases, while the accountability court put his arrest warrant in the Toshakhana case on hold.
Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), secured a nod from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for his bail pleas in the contentious references, ensuring his freedom until October 24. This judicial proclamation has effectively barred authorities from detaining him upon his scheduled return this Saturday, October 21.
Surprisingly, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not contest Sharif’s plea for protective bail, indicating a momentary softening of the bureau’s often hardline stance against the former leader. This decision was made known after an accountability court had already suspended another looming threat over Sharif, the arrest warrant in the Toshakhana case.
Reactions and Implications of the Bail Approval
The IHC’s ruling was met with commendation from PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, who viewed the decision as a triumph against what he described as a baseless narrative spun against his brother. He criticized Nawaz Sharif’s ordeal, highlighting it as a concoction of absurd charges and unwarranted harassment.
“Being subjected to baseless accusations and injustice, the elected PM, Nawaz Sharif, faced trials that would have proven his innocence in any unbiased court,” Shehbaz Sharif shared on X, reflecting the party’s belief in Nawaz’s unjust treatment and their confidence in the judicial system to uphold justice ultimately.
Despite the whirlwind of legal proceedings, Nawaz Sharif’s itinerary remains unchanged. Azam Nazeer Tarar, his lead counsel, confirmed that Sharif’s journey back to his homeland is set in stone, involving a flight from Dubai to Islamabad and a trip to Lahore after short legal and strategic consultations in the capital.
Sharif’s homecoming is a personal milestone and a crucial political event. He plans to address a major rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, signalling his unwavering resolve to remain active in the country’s political arena. This move is further cemented by confirmations from senior party members like Ishaq Dar, emphasizing Nawaz Sharif’s plans to engage directly with his supporters and party loyalists upon his return.