• Promises to deliver if elected, says won’t take U-turns
• Maryam says Imran himself to blame for his ouster

LAHORE: PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif declared his intention on Wednesday to overhaul the country’s political system that has led to the “unceremonious departure of prime ministers” and questioned the reasons behind his own removal from power ahead of the previous elections.

“Will you tell what enmity you had with me that you ousted me despite the fact that our government overcame loadshedding, controlled inflation and laid a network of motorways in the country?” Mr Sharif asked while addressing a campaign rally in Punjab’s Nankana Sahib district.

“Why was I handcuffed, sent to jail and exiled (to the UK)? I want an answer,” he said. “We will change this whole system and for this I need your support. We will do such works that will be remembered in history.”

This was the third rally Nawaz Sharif addressed since the party launched its election campaign over a week ago.

During his address, Nawaz Sharif contrasted Pakistan’s current state with that during his previous tenure, emphasising the economic challenges the nation is now facing.

“Will anyone tell whether today’s Pakistan is better than that of 2017 when I was ousted? Inflation, currency depreciation and people’s lives were made miserable once my government was sent packing,” he said. “I will find solace once the people get relief from price hikes and have employment.”

He said if his party formed the government after the Feb 8 polls, it would make Nankana Sahib a model city, build a cardiology hospital, give ownership rights to the katchi abadi residents and establish a boys’ degree college in the district.

“What I promise, I will deliver. I don’t take U-turns like others,” he said, apparently referring to Mr Khan.

Mr Sharif said he could not come to Nankana Sahib by helicopter because of fog, but he was happy to arrive there through the motorway. “I built this motorway in 2017. This goes to Multan and Sukkur. This would have been completed from Sukkur to Karachi but ours and the enemies of Pakistan did not give us this opportunity to complete it. But my morale is still high,” he added.

In her address, Maryam Nawaz defended her father against claims of being the establishment’s ladla (blue-eyed), asserting that he is the ladla of the people.

She also criticised Imran Khan without mentioning his name, insisting that no one but the PTI founder was to blame for his ouster in 2022.

Meanwhile, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, in a conversation with the youth, stated Pakistan must invest in its youth and formulate policies through consensus.

He said over 60 per cent of the population comprises young people, adding, “We are cognisant of their problems. Our younger generation has excelled in every field. If our party is elected in the elections, we will prioritise higher education.”

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2024

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