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‘Served country with loyalty’: Nawaz tells supporters at Lahore rally after return to Pakistan

PML-N chief and former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned home on Saturday after a four-year-long self-imposed exile, and said that he served the country with loyalty whenever he was given a chance, resolved its issues, and never hesitated from any sacrifice.

Addressing a rally in Lahore, hours after his return – months before the next general elections, expected to be held early in 2024, he said that his relationship with the nation is the same as when he left the country and he was proud to see “loyalty in the eyes of people”, Geo TV reported.

He recalled making Pakistan a nuclear power and “ending” load shedding during his time as the Prime Minister.

“Do you remember those 18 hours of loadshedding? Who ended it?” he asked, noting that it was under his leadership that the power issue was resolved.

He then showed an electricity bill from 2016 as the current rate has spiralled due to the falling rupee value and a rise in fuel prices.

Sharif also questioned why his governments were toppled as he recalled that he had stood up to then US President Bill Clinton on the issue of nuclear tests.

“Clinton had offered $5 billion to me in 1999 for not carrying out nuclear tests, but my conscience did not allow me to accept the thing which was against the interest of Pakistan,” he said.

“Are our (PML-N) governments toppled down and rulings are issued against us (for refusing the US and taking a stance for the interest of Pakistan)?” he asked.

He asserted that no one in Pakistan would be unemployed if his party was allowed to continue the “1990s momentum”.

“I was ousted because I didn’t allow the dollar rate to fluctuate,” he alleged.

Sharif lamented that due to the ongoing economic crisis, “one has to decide whether to pay electricity bills or take care of one’s children” and said in his time in power, the poor had enough money to avail of medical treatment.

“This didn’t start in Shehbaz’s tenure. It started way before that. The dollar was out of control, bills were going up, and rates of daily utilities and petrol were also surging.”

“During our tenure sugar was 50 rupees per kilogram, today it is at 250.”

“This is why you ousted Nawaz Sharif?” the former prime minister said while criticising his disqualification in 2017.

“Pakistan was on its way to becoming an Asian tiger, we were preparing to ensure Pakistan’s inclusion in the G20.”

Sharif landed in Islamabad in the afternoon, where he completed legal and biometric formalities..

Addressing journalists in Dubai on his way home from London, Sharif said that he is returning to Pakistan after “vindication” and that his party is “competent enough” to steer the country out of crisis, Geo TV reported.

“I am returning to Pakistan after being vindicated with the grace of Almighty Allah,” he said.

The former PM said his party is in a position to resolve the masses’ woes if elected into power.

From Islamabad, he left for Lahore and reached after 5 p.m.. He was welcomed by his younger brother and former PM Shehbaz Sharif and other party leaders at the airport.

From there, he left for Minar-e-Pakistan, the venue for the grand rally of the PML-N to welcome him, in a helicopter. Shehbaz Sharif and former federal minister Ishaq Dar accompanied him.

The helicopter landed on a special helipad created at the Diwan-e-Khaas near the Lahore Fort, from where Nawaz Sharif was escorted to Minar-e-Pakistan in a caravan of vehicles.

His daughter Maryam Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif addressed the rally before him.

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