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 PTI on Thursday.
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 decision.
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 PML-N candidate.