Nawaz Sharif directs party leaders to start preparing for general elections

Ali Raza
PML-N supporters wave party flags to welcome former premier and party supremo Nawaz Sharif during a rally on GT Road following his ouster by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in July 2017. — Reuters/File
PML-N supporters wave party flags to welcome former premier and party supremo Nawaz Sharif during a rally on GT Road following his ouster by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in July 2017. — Reuters/File 

  • Nawaz asks leaders to start mass mobilisation campaign.
  • Says to control PTI, its allies in public: sources. 
  • Ex-premier holds series of online meetings with party stalwarts.

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif issued directives to his party regarding the upcoming general elections, asking the leaders to start a mass mobilisation campaign, The News reported Tuesday.

Issuing political instructions to the PML-N's political team in Lahore, the former premier asked the party members to start preparing for general elections, and confront the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allies in the public, as per the party sources. 

Sources said Nawaz held a series of online meetings with his party stalwarts and directed them to speed up their political activities before the vote of confidence in Punjab.

It was decided that the Governor’s House and State Guest House will be used to hold public meetings and federal ministers would also hold open courts — “khuli kacheris” — to hear public problems and on-the-spot orders to solve them. 

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was also asked to engage with his allies to find a solution to stop the PTI from dissolving the Punjab Assembly. In this regard, the prime minister had recently contacted former president Asif Ali Zardari and discussed the political situation with him.

Meanwhile, the date of the Punjab Assembly’s session, on the vote of no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, has been changed and it will be held on January 9, instead of January 11. 

The assembly secretariat has also issued a gazette notification. 

Sources said the upcoming session was extremely important for both PML-N and its allies and the PTI and its allies. They said it was most likely that Punjab CM Parvez Elahi might take a vote of confidence and in case the opposition alliance fails to complete the number of 186, then Imran Khan’s announcement of the dissolution of the assemblies would be implemented.

Both PML-N and PTI are claiming to have the required number to deal with the motion. Presently, PML-N has 167 members, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) 7, and Rah-e-Haq Party 1, while five independent members are with the opposition and one has not joined any party, while the PTI has 180 members and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) 10.

Country-wide protests 

On December 29, the PTI announced to start country-wide protest movement, constantly pressurising the ruling coalition to hold snap polls. However, the government has ruled out staging early elections and has told the PTI that given the current situation — floods, census, and new delimitation — the elections cannot be held before October

"From tomorrow, country-wide protests will start against rising inflation, deteriorating economy, and shortage of gas," PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said on December 29.

In the first phase, Fawad said PTI's members of national and provincial assemblies would lead the protests for three weeks in their constituencies across the country.

"After three weeks, Imran Khan will join the campaign and this process will continue till this government is ousted," the PTI leader said, asking the nation to join hands with the party.

The announcement to return to the streets comes after PTI's chief in November called off the long march in Rawalpindi and announced plans for the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, but it is yet to materialise.

The dissolution of the KP Assembly has been linked to Punjab, whose disbandment plans hit a snag last week when the Lahore High Court reinstated Parvez Elahi as Punjab's chief minister and ordered him to not dissolve the legislative.