Shortly before midnight on the night of May 11, hours after polls closed in Pakistan’s first democratic transition in more than fifteen years, Mian Nawaz Sharif stepped onto the balcony of his party’s headquarters in Model Town, a prosperous neighborhood in the sprawling city of Lahore. To his left was his brother Shahbaz, twiddling his phone, and to his right, his daughter Maryam. His nephew Suleman stood by as did some close political associates. They were all beaming. A throng of supporters had started to march into the complex after sunset and now packed the sprawling lawn below, bopping their shoulders to a party anthem blaring out of the public address system, chanting Sharif’s name.
The “Noon League,” as Sharif’s party is commonly known in Pakistan, is comfortably placed to form a government in Islamabad. Its leader, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is all set to become prime minister of Pakistan for the third time, after a long exile under the rule of General Pervez Musharraf and an absence from any elected office for 14 years.