Pakistan’s ruling party on Tuesday re-elected ousted premier Nawaz Sharif as its leader, saying he was “back with full force”, a day after using its parliamentary majority to amend a law to allow him to re-take the job.
Jafar Iqbal, who headed a five-member election body, said Sharif had been elected party president unopposed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) central executive committee.
Sharif resigned as prime minister in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a source of income. He was also forced to step down as president of PML-N, though he kept control of the party and installed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a loyalist, as prime minister.
Sharif’s re-election as party chief brings him back into the political fold, he said, contradicting those who thought he would no longer be relevant.
“There have been attempts again and again to exit me, but you will always keep giving me an entry again and again,” Sharif told party workers after his election. “I congratulate that you’re bringing Nawaz Sharif back with full force.”
No one came forward to contest Sharif, Iqbal said amid clapping, thumping and slogans in support of Sharif in televised proceedings of the election in Islamabad. The former prime minister will lead the party for four years.
“Nawaz Sharif is the symbol of economic development in Pakistan,” Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said in his address to the party members.
Parliament amended a law on Monday to enable Sharif to re-take the PML-N leadership. Opposition lawmakers tore up paper copies of the Election Bill 2017, passed by the Senate last week, that allowed Sharif to become the party president again.
The vote was more of a formality as PML-N has a vast majority.
Sharif has appeared before an anti-corruption court and is expected to be indicted next week, along with three of his children.
The veteran leader denies any wrongdoing and has alleged there was a conspiracy against him, with senior PML-N figures pointing fingers at elements of Pakistan’s powerful military.
The army denies playing a role.