LAHORE: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, apparently perturbed at being tagged by his opponents as ladla (blue-eyed) and his party a ‘favourite’ of the military establishment, asked party’s new manifesto committee to address this matter while finalising it later this month.
On the other hand, PML-N has defended its current equation with the powers that be, wondering why such a question is being raised now when the party had never been provided a level playing field in elections.
“Nawaz Sharif is upset over the impression created by the PPP and PTI that he is a [new] blue-eyed of the military establishment and is set to return to power after getting a clean chit from courts in the cases he was convicted and disqualified,” a party insider told Dawn on Saturday.
He said Mr Sharif had directed the party’s new manifesto committee comprising over 40 members to come up with a narrative to counter this impression of being the “establishment’s party and the ladla tag”.
“The elder Sharif is keen to dilute this impression ahead of Feb 8 polls,” he added.
The PML-N on Saturday also formed 30 sub-committees, asking them to provide recommendations by Nov 20 for devising a new manifesto that could appeal to the masses.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari recently launched a scathing criticism of the Sharifs, accusing them of abandoning their vote ko izzat do narrative and being in cahoots with “selectors” — a term the PML-N used to refer to the establishment for supporting former PM Imran Khan during his tenure — to regain power.
He even called the PML-N a “king’s party” saying as far as the politics of selection and ladla were concerned, “I think we still have to struggle more so that this tradition of selection and choosing blue-eyed [politicians] comes to an end.”
PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah defended his party vis-a-vis the establishment’s backing.
“I wonder why there is a talk of facilitation [provided to the PML-N by the establishment]. Be it election during the Musharraf regime or 2018, the PML-N always faced tough situation — denial of level playing field,” Mr Sanaullah told a presser on Saturday.
“If today we are not facing that situation, it is being said that facilitation is being provided to us,” he wondered.
‘Nawaz’s conviction to go’
“We are making efforts [to ensure] that his convictions do not stand. The court needs to rectify this injustice. In a few weeks, this process will be done, making him eligible to contest the upcoming polls,” he claimed, insisting that the PML-N vote bank was intact in Punjab and it would form governments both in the centre and the province.
He said former PML-N Punjab leaders — Mansab Dogar, Ahmad Raza Maneka, Asif Bhawa, Pir Nizamuddin Sialvi, Farooq Maneka, Majid Nawaz and Saeed Khan — have returned to the party fold.
He said PML-N would field a candidate against Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, once an old friend of Mr Nawaz.
Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2023