LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday reached home after 48-day stay in London where he had undergone an open-heart surgery.

The prime minister, his spouse and children along with officials of his London camp office landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport at 7pm in PIA’s special Boeing-777 flight. Wearing a blue waistcoat and a white shalwar-kameez, the prime minister alighted from the plane at 7:15pm, waving to those present at the airport. Punjab Governor Rafiq Rajwana, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, ministers, senior officials and selective media persons received the prime minister amid a very tight security cover. As many as 1,800 security personnel were deputed on the route from the airport to the Raiwind residence of the premier.

With a glowing face, Nawaz appeared quite active on his return to the country. After a brief media chat, he flew to Jati Umra where his mother was waiting for him.

Nawaz is expected to face multiple political challenges in the times to come. With the Panama Papers issue with the central stage, the opposition parties have compounded their anti-government stand by also bringing in corruption, bad governance, Model Town killing of 14 people, price hike and law and order to launch a mass movement to seek snap polls among other options. The main opposition parties, the PPP and the PTI, are particularly closing ranks for a dharna protest against the government for which they are in the warm-up phase at present.

The prime minister, during his stay abroad, has been closely watching developments at home and, as media reports say, he is expected to address the nation next week. He is expected to stay in the city for a couple of days during which he is due to meet separately with ministers as well as senior media persons and columnists.

Talking to media persons at the airport, the prime minister advised the opposition to shun protest and let the country move on the road to progress and development. He expressed deep grief over the death of the greatest humanitarian and philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, saying the government fully recognised his services and would announce awards for him befitting the stature of that noble soul.

He said his health was quite good now and he would resume his services to the country and the nation with a new spirit. “I would live up to the expectations of the nation, the premier said. On the question of deadlock between the government and the opposition over the inconclusive terms of reference (ToRs), Nawaz Sharif said, “The impasse will be over soon. Solution to every problem can be found out through talks,” he added. He said it was time to take the country ahead instead of hampering the way of economic development. “I hope the opposition will not act to push back the country from the track of development and progress,” he said, inviting the opposition to share the government efforts in this behalf instead of resorting to disturbance and chaos. He said, “We all can go forward if we think of the country.”

The prime minister said, with the grace of God and prayers of the nation, he felt much better now. He asserted he had been discharging his duties even during his stay abroad. Nawaz Sharif told the media persons that he would meet them in next 3-4 days and share his views in detail. The PM asked the ministers to remain in close contact with the people to know their problems and address them.

On his arrival at Jati Umra, the mother of the prime minister appeared quite happy to see her son in good health after surgery. Nawaz Sharif hugged his mother and kissed her hands while the mother kissed the forehead of his son.