Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that all trials and tribulations currently being faced by Pakistan will vanish if the people's vote is accorded the respect it deserves.
"We should no longer compromise at all on 'vote ko izzat do' [honour the vote]," the former premier said while addressing a gathering of party leaders in Rawalpindi.
Sharif stressed that Pakistan will truly set out on the path of progress once the electorate's power is recognised.
Talking about the recent defections of PML-N leaders to other parties, Sharif said those who had switched allegiances "were never ours [to begin with]".
Rubbishing rumours of internal cracks within his party, the former prime minister said the PML-N remains "even more spirited than before" despite the desertion by some leaders, which he said were routine during the last few months before elections.
Sharif also addressed people who he claimed "speculate every time" that he will not return to Pakistan from his trips to London, where he has been visiting his wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who is undergoing cancer treatment there.
"I want to ask you, why do you speculate these things every time even though your suspicions are proven wrong every time," he said about his detractors.
'Answer to us, first'
Sharif said the corruption trial he and his family members are currently facing revolves solely around his family's heritage.
Recounting his family's financial history, Sharif said their factories were nationalised in 1972 in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war in 1971. He said his father then decided to set up a steel mill in Dubai, which is being scrutinised now decades later.
Sharif said his family is being questioned about how they managed to establish a factory in Dubai, but remarked: "You should answer us first, for not giving us even a penny after nationalisation... was it not our right?"
The ousted premier once again questioned why no prime minister in Pakistan has ever been able to complete his or her tenure even though the situation in India is the opposite.
Suggesting that his disqualification by the Supreme Court last year derailed the economic progress of the country, Sharif claimed the credit for reviving non-functional power projects, introducing new LNG and coal-fired power plants and building major roads and motorways.