As Pakistan welcomes the dawn of a new year, the air is filled with anticipation and optimism. The upcoming general election on 8 February marks a turning point for the nation, as leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) find themselves acquitted after enduring more than five years of persecution. The Supreme Court’s landmark verdict, asserting that a lawmaker cannot be disqualified for life under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, has removed any doubt that Mian Nawaz Sharif would again contest elections
The significance of this decision goes beyond the vindication of political leaders; it corrects a grave mistake made in the Samiullah Baloch case, where the judiciary overstepped its powers. The seven-member Supreme Court bench has established the principle that disqualification of a public office holder cannot be a lifelong sentence. The Supreme Court disqualified Mian Nawaz Sharif for not taking a salary from his son – a conspiracy to tarnish his reputation and keep him out of politics. As we close the chapter on this dark episode, we collectively turn our gaze towards the future, anticipating a new era of fairness and accountability in the political landscape.
However, as the electoral landscape unfolds, certain forces attempt to cast shadows over this momentous occasion. In January, a resolution was purportedly passed in the Senate, calling for a delay in polling. Several leaders of PML-N have affirmed their commitment to the original election date, dismissing attempts to derail the democratic process.
It appears that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, who has been clamouring for early elections, is now looking to wriggle out the contest. The people have categorically rejected the kind of politics Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has been practising, the worst manifestation of which were the events of 9 May 2023. Sensing an impending defeat, PTI is resorting to delaying tactics, which will not succeed.
We are fully prepared to contest the election and hopeful that the people of Pakistan will once again repose their trust in us.
Media commentators have pointed out the absence of PML-N leadership from the campaign trail, suggesting that it casts doubts on the impartiality of elections. The fact is that the PML-N’s top leadership has been working on the electoral manifesto and finalising names of party candidates for various constituencies. Several strong candidates applied for a PML-N ticket for each provincial and national assembly seat. The party’s parliamentary board spent several weeks interviewing the applicants. Choosing among equally competent individuals proved to be a challenging task for the leadership. The party has prioritised individuals with impeccable credentials and those who demonstrated unwavering loyalty during challenging times.
PML-N has also been working on preparing the party manifesto. Various committees and sub-committees prepared PML-N manifesto recommendations after extensive consultations with field experts, civil society organisations, bureaucracy, and others. In addition, the party received nearly 4,000 suggestions from the public for the manifesto through its online portal. Each of these suggestions was assessed and forwarded to relevant committees.
PML-N’s manifesto outlines the party’s vision for a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. Building on the party’s past achievements, the document reflects a solid plan to revive the economy, enhance security, and realign foreign policy with domestic contingencies. Comprehensive policy recommendations spanning infrastructure development, education, health, agriculture, and youth empowerment, underline the party’s commitment to progress.
It is painful to remember that the remarkable progress made by PML-N from 2013-2018 was either frozen or rolled back by the PTI government, brought into power through an elaborate conspiracy. But with immense hope, we look towards the 2024 election. It symbolises an opportunity for the people to elect representatives who will restore and build upon the progress achieved during PML-N’s previous tenures. We are fully prepared to contest the election and hopeful that the people of Pakistan will once again repose their trust in us.
As Pakistan moves towards this new horizon, the promise of a brighter future lies in the hands of the voters, ready to entrust leadership to those who embody the nation’s aspirations for peace, prosperity, and development.
The writer is PML-N’s vice president in Punjab.