Lahore: Pakistan’s main opposition PML-N has announced that its chief Nawaz Sharif will not contest upcoming by-elections to the parliament, setting aside widespread speculation on whether the former premier planned to return to electoral politics.
The PML-N said Pervez Malik, the brother of former Attorney General Malik Qayyum, will be the party’s candidate for by-polls to a National Assembly constituency in Lahore next month.
"Nawaz Sharif wants to award the ticket to a party
worker and this is the only reason he is not contesting the
election," Rana Sanaullah, a senior PML-N leader and Law
Minister of Punjab province, told agency today.
Sanaullah dismissed media reports that an agreement
between Sharif and former military ruler Pervez Musharraf that
was brokered by Saudi Arabia was the reason behind the PML-N’s
Saudi Arabia brokered the pact to allow Sharif to go
into exile after his government was overthrown by Musharraf in
a military coup in 1999.
It is said that under the agreement, Sharif cannot
participate in polls till October 2010.
The Jamaat-e-Isalami, PML-Q and former cricketer Imran
Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf party have also fielded candidates for
the by-polls. The Pakistan People’s Party will support the
According to PML-N insiders, Sharif decided not to
take part in the by-polls after lengthy consultation with
party leaders and workers.
Senior party leaders were of the view that Sharif
would not be in a better position to play his cards once he
became a member of the National Assembly or lower house of
"In fact, Nawaz Sharif cannot be the Leader of
Opposition in the National Assembly or a mere parliamentarian.
It will be good for both his political career and the party to
continue mounting pressure on the PPP-led coalition government
from outside parliament," a senior PML-N leader said on
condition of anonymity.
Several opinion polls have shown that the two-time
former premier is currently Pakistan’s most popular leader.
Analysts believe the PML-N will win the country’s next
"Since the PML-N’s outspoken leaders at the centre
like Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ahsan Iqbal and Khwaja Asif
leave no opportunity to embarrass the PPP-led government, the
PML-N sees no reason to send Nawaz Sharif to the parliament,"
the senior PML-N leader said.