- Punjab CM says ‘Nawaz Sharif was, is and will always be our leader’
- Nawaz urges people to make upcoming elections referendum on his disqualification
- Says his heart has been broken by the mistreatment allegedly meted out to him
ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) elected Shehbaz Sharif as permanent president of the party as the Central General Council met at Islamabad’s Convention Centre on Tuesday.
Shehbaz was elected unopposed as no other candidate had submitted papers for the party’s top office.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and other bigwigs of PML-N were also present on the occasion.
‘WILL DEFEAT NIAZI-ZARDARI NEXUS’:
Addressing party supporters after his election, Shehbaz said he was honoured to have been chosen as the party president but that no one, including himself, could even think about taking the place of Nawaz Sharif, who was removed as the party president by the Supreme Court but was later rechristened as the party’s ‘leader for life’.
“I believe Nawaz Sharif is the only Pakistani politician and leader that can be called Jinnah’s political heir,” he said. “We are lucky to have been blessed with a Quaid [leader] like Nawaz Sharif.”
Shehbaz said today is “not a day to celebrate” because the world knows that his party’s leader has been “targeted”.
“I believe that one day this injustice will be rectified.”
“When we talk about the progress of other provinces, I feel incredibly sad about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) because they have been ripped off their rights. Everyone has been utterly disappointed in Imran Khan, he promised the civilians of such big dreams and in reality after all these years, nothing happened.”
Shehbaz said that PML-N also enjoys support from minorities.
He confidently stated that Imran Khan and Zardari combined cannot defeat Nawaz under any circumstance.
He further added saying that, “It is a huge opportunity for me that Nawaz has bestowed this challenge upon me. I am humbled and scared also but I will continue working hard with your blessings.”
‘I’M HUMAN TOO’:
In his address to the convention, Nawaz said he is unable to understand why a prime minister that was elected by the votes of tens of millions of Pakistanis was abruptly removed.
He said the party’s manifesto for the election campaign would be “vote ko izzat do” (respect the vote) as the party wanted to restore respect for the mandate of the citizens.
“Respect our vote. Respect the people. Respect the mandate. Respect people’s right to rule,” the ousted prime minister said.
He also said that it was a part of his faith that the people of the country should lead an honourable and prosperous life and for the purpose, he would remain steadfast in his mission to ensure respect of the voters.
“The next 70 years of Pakistan should be better than the previous ones. I will walk beside you. I will compel you to work for the respect of your vote,” said Nawaz and urged his party workers to make the upcoming elections a referendum for the voters’ respect.
“It is not easy to end an era of load shedding,” he said, adding that his government had managed to achieve the seemingly impossible feat.
Nawaz forbade the audience from chanting slogans, saying it was a solemn occasion because the country faces an uncertain situation.
“We worked hard and resolved to erase the darkness from this land,” he said, adding that the people who were experiencing 20-22 hours of load shedding daily a few years ago are now living their days in peace.
He named the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), motorways, metro bus projects, orange train and power projects as some of the achievements of his government and said he was being punished for putting Pakistan on the path to progress and prosperity.
He also said that several projects were nearing completion and Prime Minister Abbasi will have to inaugurate those projects because he personally does not feel like going anywhere anymore.
“I am a human too,” he said, adding that his heart has been broken by the mistreatment allegedly meted out to him.
The PML-N ‘leader for life’ said the next 70 years for Pakistan should not be like the past 70 years, and sought the people’s support to work for the country’s betterment.
“I feel bad for the people of KP, they have been fooled under the label of ‘tabdeeli’,” he said.
“You see Punjab, and you see the other provinces, can you say they worked as hard as we did,” he questioned.
“The progress made by Punjab within the past ten years was more than what had been done in the previous 60 years,” he added.
“You are witness to when I say I have no selfish reasons to this, but I am looking out for you, our future generations. If I am to suffer for the country, I will not do it for personal gains, but for the masses,” he said.
Taking a jibe at Imran Khan and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), he said that they all hid under the ‘cloak of the master’. Nawaz said that his opponents were “liars and dual-faced” as their actions were contrary to their words.
“They are like wind-up toys that act on others’ instructions,” he said and added that those who were claiming to be honest and principled, staged a drama in the Senate and made compromised its election.
Slamming the new Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, he said such people were controlled by other powers.
“You are a liar, a cheat and a hypocrite,” he said.
He also said such people were an ‘insult’ to the country. “They’re the kind to sell the public for their personal gains we are the kind to die for the country,” he added.
“We do not make compromises. We do not sell our nation. We fight for the people of Pakistan,” Nawaz said as he concluded his speech while repeatedly raising slogans of “vote ko izzat do”.
The post of party president was left vacant last month after Nawaz was removed from the position by the apex court.
The PML-N has been facing a leadership crisis since the apex court, in its July 28 Panama Papers judgement, ordered Nawaz’s disqualification from public office and he was removed as party head.
However, with the speedy passage of the Elections Act 2017 ─ which amended the requirements necessary for top party leadership to possess ─ Nawaz managed to retake party leadership. But he was removed again from the post after the court ruled in February this year that a disqualified person is ineligible to lead a party.
PML-N lawmakers hail Shehbaz’s appointment
On the other hand, PML-N lawmakers and central leaders Tuesday congratulated Shehbaz Sharif on his unopposed appointment as president of the party.
They believed that Shehbaz Sharif would utilise the best of his energies to strengthen the party at the grass-roots level and carry out Nawaz Sharif’s mission of making Pakistan a developed and prosperous country.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan lauded the decision saying that it would have a positive impact on the popularity of the party in the general elections 2018. He added that the PML-N was a democracy-loving party which had written a new political history by electing Nawaz Sharif as lifetime ‘Quaid’ of the party.
Finance Minister Dr Ghous Pasha, felicitating Shehbaz Sharif, said that the party would get further boost in the country under his dynamic and candid leadership.
Parliamentary Secretary for Information and Culture Rana Muhammad Arshad expressed the hope that Shehbaz Sharif would utilise all his skills and experience to lead the party and take the workers along with him in the upcoming election campaign.
MPAs Yasin Sohal, Mian Naseer Ahmed, Shehzad Mushi, Hina Pervaiz Butt and Azma Bokhari said that appointing Shehbaz as the party president would make the party stronger and give a lot of dividends in the next general elections.
They also hailed the services of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as he gave the gifts of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and revitalised country’s economy, eliminated load-shedding and terrorism.
They expressed the hope that both Nawaz and Shehbaz would continue their efforts for further strengthening of the party and serve their countrymen with best of their skills and abilities to address their problems, besides taking the country on road to progress and development.
MNA Shaista Pervaiz Malik said that Shehbaz’s election as party president had washed away desires of those envisaging cracks in the party ranks.