PML-N to resist attempts for February 8 polls postponement, says Shehbaz Sharif

Party president also warns of severe consequences for Pakistan, democracy if nationwide election delayed

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PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif during an interview with Geo News programme Jirga with Saleem Safi on January 20, 2024, in this photo taken from video. — Geo News
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif during an interview with Geo News programme "Jirga with Saleem Safi" on January 20, 2024, in this photo taken from video. — Geo News

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While brushing aside speculations, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will oppose with full force against attempts to postpone the February 8 general elections.

Shehbaz — the PML-N president — in an interview with the Geo News programme Jirga with Saleem Safi on Saturday, stressed that the time has arrived to enter the election phase at any cost, adding that any delay in the polls would be disastrous for Pakistan and democracy.

He expressed his views that all parties have commenced election campaigns across the country. "Despite challenges, the nationwide polls should be conducted without any further delay."

Recalling the performance of past governments led by his elder brother, he said that Nawaz Sharif had made Pakistan a nuclear power.

He also gave credit to the former coalition government led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a 13-party alliance formed to topple the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government — for preventing the country from "facing default".

The ex-premier added that the former PDM government, under his premiership, was only fighting for Pakistan’s survival without any political agendas during its 16-month rule.

Elaborating on the party’s election strategy, the PML-N president said that Nawaz had personally interviewed candidates. The junior Sharif also detailed that Nawaz would be the party’s candidate for the premiership.

He, however, refused to ascertain the restoration of his previous portfolio of the Punjab chief ministership. “I don’t know yet who would be the next Punjab CM. After winning the mandate, the decision will be taken after consultation with Nawaz.”

The senior politico, when questioned about his popular party’s narrative Vote Ko Izzat Do, replied the slogan was meant to end loadshedding in five years.

Commenting on a plethora of cases against the former ruling party, PTI, and its leadership, Shehbaz said Imran would never be in jail if the May 9 riots had not happened.

He termed May 9 events ‘betrayal’ and a “conspiracy’ hatched by the PTI founder against the armed forces.

He urged all stakeholders to maintain unity in the better interests of the country.

A few days ago, Shehbaz claimed that it would “surprise” everyone in the February 8 election, as the date for the much-awaited contest nears and electioneering intensifies almost across the country.

In the interaction with journalists, the former ruling party's president said he was confident of his party securing sufficient seats to form government in the centre as his elder brother Nawaz eyes becoming the prime minister for a record fourth time.

With the party supremo back in Pakistan after nearly four years of exile, the PML-N believes it has got a much-needed boost — given the dismal performance during the 16-month tenure of the coalition government, headed by Shehabz.

The party has fielded 208 candidates for the 266 National Assembly general seats up for grabs. Meanwhile, overall for the five legislatures, the PML-N has issued 671 tickets out of the 859 seats.