As former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is gearing up for his return to Pakistan after nearly four years of self-imposed exile, his brother Shehbaz Sharif’s political role seems to be moving back to where it matters more.
Shehbaz Sharif, who led the Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition government from April 2022 to August 2023 after ousting his predecessor Imran Khan from office in a no-confidence vote in Parliament, is now setting the platform for the return of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan through a heroic welcome and is acting as the balancing root and a connecting bridge between the country’s powerful military establishment and the Sharif family.
The ambition behind this role is to ensure that Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan to win the next general elections and take control of the country’s federal power political house, Parliament.
“Shehbaz Sharif’s role in Nawaz Sharif's return is pivotal. He is the one who is the messenger of communication between Nawaz Sharif and the military establishment. He is the one who is formulating and adjusting the political narrative and slogan of the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) for elections. He is the one who advised Nawaz Sharif to refrain from targeting the military establishment’s former chief and other top officials in his speeches. So, it’s Shehbaz Sharif who is clearing the road for Nawaz Sharif’s return,” said political analyst Adnan Shauqat.
But the question is, what future will Shehbaz Sharif have after the Nawaz Sharif's return as it is a fact that the former cannot become the Prime Minister in the presence of the latter.
The answer to that is Shehbaz Sharif is planning to take control of the most important province of the country, where he has a glittering track record.
Shehbaz Sharif is again geared up to become the Chief Minister of the country’s largest province Punjab.
“Shehbaz Sharif would become the Chief Minister of Punjab and his brother would become the Prime Minister of the country. All have applauded Shehbaz Sharif’s credentials as the Chief Minister of Punjab. The development that the province has seen under his governance has taken the province far ahead from the rest of the country. In Punjab, they call Shehbaz Sharif’s leadership as ‘Shehbaz Speed’, because he was vigilant and active and kept authorities from all sectors on their toes,” said Adnan Shauqat, a political analyst.
It is also important for Shehbaz Sharif to maintain control in Punjab with his brother in the federal government, as the province has been the stronghold of PML-N politics for decades.
In the past, the popularity of the party has suffered because of the strong opposition by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its leader Imran Khan, whose narrative against other political parties gained widespread support from the masses.
Shehbaz Sharif, being the chief of PML-N, would be the best candidate to regain his political strength from the Punjab province and reach out to voters with success stories of his tenures as Chief Minister.
It is also a fact that when PTI was gaining its popularity throughout the country; it was PML-N that stayed intact and was able to keep its leadership support on its side.
“Central Punjab is where the PML-N has maintained its political strength. And most of its strength has derived from the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif. It is this reason why Shehbaz Sharif as the Chief Minister of Punjab while Nawaz Sharif takes over the federal government is the best combination for the Sharif family,” said political analyst Amir Latif.