Hamza back to 'claim his stake' as cousin's campaign picks up.

LAHORE -- As their demand for the accountability of Imran Khan seems closer to materialising, the younger generation of Sharifs - Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz - are all set to wade into the arena of electoral politics from Lahore.

Following Hamza's return from an extended trip abroad in what is being seen by some observers as a bid to 'claim his stake in the party' that is currently being steered by Ms Sharif, both cousins are now expected to run for election to the provincial assembly.

Hamza, the son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who had a short-lived stint as Punjab CM last year, returned on Tuesday from the United States via Saudi Arabia.

In case Mr Khan goes to prison, the PML-N's stated objective of 'Imran's accountability first, elections later' may be seen as having been fulfilled, a PML-N leader in Punjab told Dawn on Tuesday.

He said there was no secret to the PML-N's demand, as Maryam Nawaz had repeatedly been asking for action against Imran Khan and relief for her father, Nawaz Sharif, as a precondition for holding polls in both provinces.

'Now if Mr Khan goes to jail ... it will be much easier for his opponents, especially the PML-N, to manage the election in Punjab,' he said, citing the arrest of Nawaz Sharif before the July 2018 general elections.

'When Mr Sharif was arrested ahead of 2018 general elections, his party lost the polls and the PML-N had blamed the powers that be for manipulating the elections to bring its then-favourite party, the PTI, to power,' he said.

'Now Mr Khan will be in jail and the PML-N, which currently is enjoying better ties with the powers that be, is better placed to go into polls in Punjab,' he said.

As far as the internal politics of PML-N is concerned, Hamza Shahbaz reportedly returned to the country on the instructions of his father.

'Hamza's return is being read in the party ranks as a go-ahead signal from the party elders to roll up their sleeves for Punjab elections. Since Hamza was the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly and also remained the chief minister for a brief...

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