LAHORE: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is going to Balochistan on a two-day visit on Tuesday (today) as part of his party’s policy to form strategic alliances in all provinces ahead of the Feb 8 general elections.

As a delegation of senior MQM-P leaders visited the elder Sharif in Lahore last week on his invitation to forge an alliance with the PML-N against the PPP in Sindh, sources said the ‘Sardars of Balochistan’ asked him [Nawaz] to come to Quetta and honour them if he wanted to go along with them in the upcoming polls.

PML-N senior leader Sardar Ayaz Sadiq claimed that Mr Sharif would hold political meetings in Quetta where “several electables” would announce joining his party.

During a recent visit to Quetta, Mr Sadiq held meetings with key figures, including Jam Kamal and Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) who assured him of considering joining the PML-N.

Hamza says it’s good sign if establishment supports government

According to sources, some former and incumbent leaders belonging to BAP may announce joining the PML-N during Mr Sharif’s visit and BAP as a party seems more interested in seat adjustment with PML-N.

“Since some of the BAP leaders earlier remained with the PML-N and incumbent Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, a former member of BAP, had a good working relationship with PML-N, the party of Sharifs may not face much problems in exploring strategic partners in Balochistan ahead of the polls,” they said.

At least three close aides of the Sharifs — Fawad Hasan Fawad, Ahad Cheema and Umar Saif — are in PM Kakar’s cabinet. The PPP alleges that the PML-N has installed some eight members in the federal cabinet, which virtually looks like a caretaker government of PML-N.

“The PML-N has eyed up at least 25 sardars/electables from Balochistan who are likely to join hands with it during Mr Sharif’s visit,” a senior party leader from Punjab told Dawn on Monday. He said the party was targeting the electables ahead of the February polls.

“In Balochistan, the role of electables is very crucial in polls. Similarly, in south Punjab, this electable factor matters a lot. In coming days more and more electables will prefer the PML-N over the PPP or any other party,” he claimed.

PML-N Balochistan chapter president Sheikh Jaffar Khan Mandokhail said Mr Sharif would hold meetings with PkMAP Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai, National Party President Dr Malik Baloch, former CM Jam Kamal and BAP leaders, including Nawabzada Khalid Magsi, Sardar Muhammad Saleh Bhootani and some of the party’s senators, ex-MNAs and MPAs.

Mr Sharif will also attend a function in which various ‘electables’ will announce joining PML-N, including former MNAs and MPAs belonging to BAP.

The PPP, on the other hand, is also all set to woo as many electables in Balochistan as it could.

Interestingly, Mr Kamal also recently met PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and supported his party’s cause for pushing for polls.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said if any party had done anything practical to address problems of Balochistan, it was the PPP and it would kick-start the election campaign in the province with a rally in connection with 56th foundation day of the party on November 30 in Quetta in the run-up to February 8 polls.

‘Most difficult elections’

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s son Hamza Shehbaz said the Feb 8 polls were going to be the most difficult ones in the country’s history.

Talking to journalists in Lahore on Monday, the PML-N leader said all parties should work together to steer the country out of crises.

In reply to a question about the role of the establishment and the PML-N’s relations with it, he said it was a good sign if the establishment supported the government.

“It is also a good thing if there are cordial relations with the establishment,” Mr Hamza added.

Asked whether Nawaz Sharif was new blue-eyed of the military establishment, Mr Hamza said: “When I was in the opposition, the people would call Imran Khan a blue-eyed.”

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2023

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