LAHORE -  After the Senate approved the Election Reforms Bill 2017 last week, chances are bright for deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif to get back to the office of the party president.

The bill had scrapped the embargo on a disqualified person’s becoming head of a political party. The bill is now before the National Assembly where it is very mush likely to be carried easily (may be on October 2) as the ruling PML-N commands majority in the lower house with the help of its partners. It may be mentioned that the bill which has been strongly opposed by the Opposition in the parliament, has also been challenged before the superior judiciary mainly raising the question on making a person head of the party when the court has held him ineligible to stay in the parliament.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has asked the PML-N to elect its new president as the interim period of 45 days for the acting president of the party has elapsed. The commission has also summoned the acting secretary of the party Ahsan Iqbal on October 3. As such the party still has time to call the general house meeting, which comprises around 2000 senior members of the party from all over the country, AJK and GB, and elect the president.

The chief election commissioner of the PML-N Ch Jaffar Iqbal told this scribe that schedule of the election for the president slot will be announced by mid of October as they needed time and did not want to hold election activity during Muharram. He said, “We have to call members of the general council from all over the country and other parts and making arrangements for their stay which also needs time.” He said the acting president and the chairman of the party were in place as such the party was very much functional for all practical purposes. Despite that Ch Jaffar, who has also held the office of the deputy speaker in the second stint of the Nawaz Sharif, said that party is due to appoint a permanent president next month.

The party sources confided to this scribe that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is in the limelight to resume as head of the party in deference to the overwhelming demand of the party men as well as for the sake of integrity and strength of the party. They say in case any legal or other hurdle came in the way of Nawaz Sharif in becoming president of the PML-N again, the person of his choice will come forward to command that position. They said if not Nawaz Sharif, his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif was the most potential candidate for the presidential slot of the PML-N.

Nawaz Sharif himself, in consultation with the party bigwigs, had appointed Sardar Khan Nasir as acting president of the party. He is calling the shots in the party as its Quaid and exercising huge clout in the government where he also appointed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as prime minister of Pakistan to replace him on this slot. Prime Minister Abbasi still regards Nawaz Sharif his PM while speaker National Assembly, reflecting sentiments of others in the party, also said that Nawaz Sharif lived in his heart and it was hard for him to erase his name from his mind. Nawaz is still enjoying the complete protocol of the prime minister and his voice today is as strong as it was before the disqualification verdict.

The PML-N men, whether in the government or outside, have not accepted the disqualification decision against Nawaz while they have also recorded exceptions to the accountability references against Nawaz and his children.

Political observers say that Nawaz, on regaining his position as president of the party, will continue to hold central stage in the party and the government. At the same time, he would also be facing the accountability cases.

The observers do not rule out the future possibility in which, at the level of party, he would be marching forward and at the level of facing cases, the accountability courts will be venturing to pull him back. This whole scenario may leave a big question for the PML-N government as to which side it should throw its weight.