Former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif will seek a fourth term in office, his party says

LAHORE – Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will seek a fourth term in office, his party said Wednesday, noting he would be its consensus candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections and the office of the prime minister.

Sharif, who has served as prime minister three times, returned to Pakistan in October after four years of self-exile in London to avoid serving prison sentences on corruption charges.

However, his conviction and sentences were overturned on appeal after his return, making him eligible to run for a seat in the parliament, which will elect the new prime minister after the Feb. 8 vote.

“There is no doubt about it. Nawaz Sharif is our candidate for the office of the prime minister,” said Rana Sanaullah Khan, a senior leader in Sharif’s party.

Sharif stepped down as prime minister in 2017 over the corruption charges. In July 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison over purchases of luxury apartments in London. In December that year, he was sentenced to a further seven years for failing to disclose how his family set up steel mills in 1999.

Sharif’s main rival, Imran Khan, is currently serving a prison term, but he too has announced plans to contest the elections. Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022, but he remains a leading figure and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has a large following.

Also Wednesday, police arrested one of Khan’s deputies, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in Rawalpindi under a law that allows authorities to detain anyone to maintain law and order in the country. A video showed police pushing Qureshi toward an armored vehicle as he shouted that he was being arrested unjustly.

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The arrest came days after the Supreme Court granted bail to Qureshi and Khan in a case related to the leaking of official government secrets. But because Khan is in prison for a graft case, he will not be released.

Khan and Qureshi are accused of revealing the contents of a classified cable that was sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington when Khan was in power. Both deny they disclosed the cable’s contents.