• Ahsan Iqbal says elder Sharif to lead poll drive after clearance in all cases against him
• Delimitation, infighting over tickets cited as other factors for delay in campaign

LAHORE: While the Pakistan Peoples Party has already launched an aggressive election campaign by holding rallies in different parts of the country, its former ally the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has linked kicking off the drive to clearance of its supremo Nawaz Sharif in all the cases he is facing.

On the other hand, both parties’ rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is desperate to hold rallies in the run-up to Feb 8, 2024 elections but claims the authorities are not allowing it and are quick to pounce on its workers who dare to take part in any such activities.

“The PML-N will kick-start its election campaign once the legal procedure regarding the appeals of Nawaz Sharif is over. It is anticipated that the appeals will be decided in a week or so and then Mr Sharif will lead the party’s campaign across the country,” PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal told Dawn on Wednesday.

Strategy amidst legal challenges

The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday had decided to conduct a regular hearing of Mr Sharif’s appeals in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia Mills corruption references. The accountability court had handed down 10 and seven years jail terms to Mr Sharif in Avenfield and Al-Azizia, respectively.

In Avenfield case, the elder Sharif had secured bail, and in Al-Azizia he was serving the term at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail before leaving for London on medical grounds for ‘four weeks’.

Asked if Nawaz Sharif failed to get relief in these cases or they lingered on, what would be the party’s strategy regarding launching polls campaign, Ahsan Iqbal said: “We are hopeful that Nawaz Sharif will get clearance in these cases very soon and he will spearhead the drive.”

When questioned about reports suggesting that the PML-N was hesitant to initiate the campaign due to popularity concerns, Mr Iqbal responded, “The party has been consistently preparing, receiving hundreds of applications for the upcoming polls. Once Mr Nawaz’s appeals are decided, huge rallies will be organised nationwide.”

Awaiting delimitation

The PML-N secretary general also did not agree with the impression that PML-N seemed complacent with regard to ‘delayed’ launch of the election campaign because it had been given assurance from the powers that be regarding coming to power after the polls.

Another PML-N leader from Punjab told Dawn that one of the reasons for the delayed party polls campaign was waiting for the outcome of the delimitation exercise of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Award of tickets

“Besides, the party leadership is also wary of infighting in the party in Punjab on tickets for national and provincial assemblies seats. The party cannot take its chances in holding rallies in any constituency in Punjab till award of tickets are not finalised,” he said and added once the delimitation and award of tickets issues were settled the PML-N would launch the election campaign.

While the party is yet to launch its election campaign, PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz on Wednesday shared a video on X (formerly Twitter) in which her father Nawaz Sharif was seen driving a car on Murree Road, recalling old times in conversation with her.

Mr Sharif recalled the days when he and his late wife, Kul­soom Nawaz, used to stroll from Murree to Changla Gali. “We had brisk walk while climbing up the road,” he said and also talked about different spots there.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Digital growth
25 Apr, 2024

Digital growth

TECHNOLOGY divides us. According to a new UNDP report on Pakistan, titled Doing Digital for Development — Access,...
Nikah rights
25 Apr, 2024

Nikah rights

THE Supreme Court recently delivered a judgement championing the rights of women within a marriage. The ruling...
Campus crackdowns
25 Apr, 2024

Campus crackdowns

WHILE most Western governments have either been gladly facilitating Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza, or meekly...
Ties with Tehran
Updated 24 Apr, 2024

Ties with Tehran

Tomorrow, if ties between Washington and Beijing nosedive, and the US asks Pakistan to reconsider CPEC, will we comply?
Working together
24 Apr, 2024

Working together

PAKISTAN’S democracy seems adrift, and no one understands this better than our politicians. The system has gone...
Farmers’ anxiety
24 Apr, 2024

Farmers’ anxiety

WHEAT prices in Punjab have plummeted far below the minimum support price owing to a bumper harvest, reckless...