The PML-N, with the support of the military establishment, has gone all out to show that with the return of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan, all is well, they will sweep the polls, the economy will improve, the security situation will calm down and Pakistan will enter its new era.
Hope, however, is not reality.
Nawaz is smart enough to understand that the only reason his return is not the same as 2007 is that for the military establishment he is preferable to Imran Khan, and they know no other party can win Punjab – not PPP or JUIF – and so they are ‘holding their noses’ and helping his return.
However, what kind of deal has Nawaz agreed to behind doors with the army chief and his advisors? Will the army interfere in elections and if so in what manner? After elections, if Nawaz wins, how much will the army really allow Nawaz to control? What do they expect from him in return? Will he have any control over foreign policy especially relations with US, China, and India?
As someone who has faced the brunt of the establishment, and spoken out openly against the military’s actions, how does Nawaz feel to once again be ‘the King’s party?’ While his party is portraying Nawaz as someone who stood up against the military, will the Pakistani public accept that, or will they see him as someone who gave in to the establishment?