Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday indicated his party will reform the country’s political system to prevent the “unceremonious departure of prime ministers” in future, as he continued to criticize his ouster in 2017.
“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?” he said during a campaign rally in Punjab’s Nankana Sahib district. “Why was I handcuffed, sent to jail and exiled? I want an answer,” he said, stressing he wished to change “the whole system” but needed the public’s support in the elections to achieve this.
Reiterating his comparisons with the Pakistan of today and the Pakistan during his previous tenure, Sharif did not shy from highlighting the prevailing economic challenges. “Will anyone says that 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 lamented, adding he would only find peace once people were granted relief from price hikes and could secure employment.
Vowing to transform Nankana Sahib into a “model city” if the PMLN wins the Feb. 8 polls, he said this would include a cardiology hospital, ownership rights for katchi abadi residents and a boys’ degree college. “What I promise, I will deliver. I don’t take U-turns like others,” he said, in a reference to PTI founder Imran Khan.
Noting he had reached Nankana Sahib via the motorway, Sharif recalled his government had built it in 2017. “This would have continued 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 said, before inviting his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, to address the crowds.
In her speech, Maryam rejected criticisms from rivals of her father being a ‘ladla’ (blue-eyed) of the establishment, saying that while he was a ‘ladla,’ it was of the people. She also criticized Khan, without naming him, by asserting Nawaz had not ousted anyone through a conspiracy. “You are yourself responsible for destroying your party,” she said.
Echoing the campaign rhetoric of the PPP chairman, she said the PMLN was contesting elections to fight against soaring inflation and hefty electricity bills. She also recalled that her father was ousted from office in 2017 via a conspiracy and urged the people of Nankana Sahib to vote the PMLN into power. “Give Nawaz a chance to serve [you again],” she added.