PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif speaks at a convention of party workers in Rawalpindi on Sunday.—White Star
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif speaks at a convention of party workers in Rawalpindi on Sunday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif has said outcome of the recent cantonment board elections is a clear indication that his party will sweep the 2023 general elections and “bury the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) politically forever”, provided the polls are held in a transparent manner and without interference.

Speaking at a workers’ convention in Rawalpindi on Sunday, Mr Sharif said it was not just their demand but their right to have transparent elections.

The convention was attended by a large number of charged party workers who kept raising slogans “Wazir-i-Azam Nawaz Sharif” and “I love you, Shehbaz Sharif” almost throughout the event. Whenever the leaders in their speeches talked about growing inflation and unemployment in the country, the venue echoed with slogans “Go Niazi Go”.

Congratulating workers of PML-N and its Rawalpindi chapter leadership over the victory in the last month’s cantonment board elections, the PML-N president declared that the elections in cantonments were held in a transparent manner, as “no one intervened in them”.

Asks all institutions, including judiciary, to ensure fairness in elections

“This is our demand from Supreme Court, the high courts, executive, the legislatures and all other institutions that the 2023 elections must be held in a transparent manner. This is not just our demand but our right,” said Mr Sharif, who is also the opposition leader in the National Assembly.

“In 2023, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, we will politically bury the PTI forever,” he claimed amid slogans Muk Gaya Tera Show Niazi [your show is over], Go Niazi, Go Niazi.

Mentioning the recent victory in cantonment board elections, the PML-N chief told party workers that cantonments were the place where the PTI had “opened its eyes some 10 to 12 years back”, claiming that the opposition party had defeated the PTI at its “place of origin”.

According to results of Sept 12 cantonment board elections, the PTI and the PML-N had remained victorious in nearly 58 per cent wards of the 41 cantonments. The PTI though remained at the top of the list with 63 seats, closely followed by the PML-N with 59 seats, the ruling party’s defeat at the hands of the PML-N in Punjab had surprised many.

“Get ready, it’s time to launch a movement against the government, defeat it politically and make Pakistan great,” said Mr Sharif while lashing out at government’s economic policies.

The PML-N president said victory in the cantonments was an expression of the people’s rejection of the “selected prime minister” who was “imposed” on the nation and had obliterated the country’s economy and destroyed the livelihoods of the people pushing them into abject poverty and starvation.

Mr Sharif said the Imran-led government had annihilated the socio-economic state of the country. “Today, a mother cannot save her ailing daughter because Imran had stopped free medicines at public hospitals. Today, a father cannot feed his family because Imran Khan’s incompetence took away millions of jobs instead of giving the promised 10 million jobs. Today, electricity, gas, petrol, sugar, flour and other essential commodities have been pushed beyond the buying power of the people. Today, new taxes were being hammered on the public every second day,” he went on to add while counting present government’s failures. The only way to get rid of all these problems was to get rid of Mr Khan and his government, Mr Sharif claimed, saying that the time had come to rise up against the cruelty, indifference and injustice and take back their country from the “looters”.

At the end, the PML-N chief took a pledge from the party workers at the convention in a style similar to former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to work day and night with complete dedication to make the country great again.

The PML-N chief said people remembered the days when their leader Nawaz Sharif kept public welfare atop his agenda, serving them selflessly. Had Nawaz Sharif been given his rightful fourth term, Pakistan would have been among the top economies of the country, including Turkey, and had left India far behind, instead of being relegated by international financial institutions, he claimed.

Earlier, PML-N parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Khawaja Asif asked party workers to be ready for the elections which, according to him, could take place any time.

“The elections can be held anytime. The government can be wrapped up anytime,” he said.

Referring to rifts at ‘leadership level in party ranks in all its organisations’, the PML-N leader asked party workers to show unity. “The disputes are not among the workers, but among the leaderships, be it in cities, in tehsils or union councils. These disputes must end.... fighting is going on everywhere,” he said, while pleading party workers and leadership to get united.

He told them that 73 per cent votes were polled against the rulers in the recent cantonment board elections.

The PML-N stalwart from Sialkot said if the workers wanted to cash Nawaz Sharif’s popularity and reward for his sacrifices in the elections then they would have to demonstrate unity in their ranks and stand behind Nawaz Sharif like an iron wall.

Former party MNA from Rawalpindi Hanif Abbasi, in an emotional speech, heaped praise on PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif for supporting him and his family during the difficult time when he was in jail in connection with a narcotics case.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021

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