PML-N leader targets PPP’s rule in Sindh, PTI’s social media reliance

Published January 1, 2024
PML-N leader Khaw­aja Saad Rafique speaks at a workers’ convention in constituency NA-119 (Lahore-III) on Dec 31, 2023. — X
PML-N leader Khaw­aja Saad Rafique speaks at a workers’ convention in constituency NA-119 (Lahore-III) on Dec 31, 2023. — X

LAHORE: A seasoned PML-N leader, known for artfully assailing opponents, on Sunday took an uncharacteristically direct approach in criticising his party’s main rivals — the PPP and PTI — slamming the former for its stranglehold on Sindh and ridiculing the latter’s reliance on social media.

Speaking at a workers’ convention in National Asse­mbly constituency NA-119 (Lahore-III), Khaw­aja Saad Rafique questioned the track records of both parties and highlighted the PML-N’s willingness to form a coalition, even if it secured a majority in the upcoming polls.

Without naming anyone, he observed that a party was fielding its leader from a neighbouring constituency — a thinly veiled reference to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is contesting from nearby NA-127.

Criticising the party’s 15-year governance in Kar­achi, which he claimed had reduced the city to ruins, Mr Rafique foreboded that it would do the same to Lahore if voted into power.

Saad insists party doesn’t want to see PTI’s ‘bat’ missing from ballot, but wants law to prevail

He also ridiculed the PPP for demanding a level playing field in Lahore, while it was not allowing anyone to utter a single word against it in Sindh.

Highlighting the PML-N’s contributions to Punjab, including youth-oriented projects like laptop distribution and infrastructure developments, he claimed that the PPP had tried to copy PML-N projects in Punjab by introducing a bus in Sindh, but did not execute it well.

Mr Rafique said that army generals and judges “who stole the 2018 elections” and put innocent people behind bars did not just commit an offence against the PML-N, but the whole nation. He claimed that party supremo Nawaz Sharif was disqualified because he would not accept dictation from anyone.

He said the PML-N leadership had already stated that even if they got a majority in the Feb 8 polls, they would ask all the parties to come and form a coalition government.

Echoing Mr Rafique’s sentiments, party leader Ataullah Tarar emphasised Lahore’s status as a PML-N stronghold and questioned the PPP’s developmental claims in Karachi.

He also recalled Nawaz Sharif’s role in restoring peace to Karachi and urged voters to recognise his “sacrifices” by supporting PML-N in the upcoming elections.

Losing ‘bat’

Talking about the PTI, the seasoned PML-N leader said that while they did not want to see PTI’s election symbol, the “bat”, missing from ballot papers, but the party also did not want to see the law of the land being bent to suit an individual wishes.

Rather than being influenced by performance on social media and narratives, the general elections will be grounded in the realities of towns and villages of the country, he said, criticising the PTI’s reliance on social media.

He pointed out that while platforms like Twitter and Facebook could be manipulated through artificial intelligence and fake accounts, the true electoral battle would be fought on the ground.

Stressing that voter decisions should be based on tangible performance, Mr Rafique highlighted PML-N’s achievements, including a network of motorways and energy projects, in contrast to PTI’s lack of major projects during its four years of rule.

Questioning PTI’s contributions during its nine-year rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr Rafique asked: “Did it build any children’s hospital, any cardiology institute or generate a single megawatt of electricity?”

He also accused former prime minister Imran Khan of attacking state institutions on social media and declaring them traitors and Indian agents.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2024

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