ISLAMABAD - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday asked the party workers and people of Pakistan to convert the upcoming general elections into a referendum against ‘undemocratic forces’ and establish the sanctity of vote.

He was addressing an emotionally charged Central General Council meeting here at the Convention Centre, after the elections of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif as new party chief.

The former premier seemed quite aggressive against the forces which had turned the tables on the ruling party in elections for chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, despite PML-N’s emerging as the majority party in the Upper House.

Without naming PPP and PTI leadership, Nawaz Sharif termed both the parties stooges in the hands of ‘certain powers’ and said all what had happened in the election for Senate top slots had only weakened the incumbent political dispensation.

Those talking about a new Pakistan had proven themselves to be “key-operated toys” [in the hands of establishment] after yesterday’s “drama” in the upper house, he held.

In a reference to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, he said: “The one from Banigala, those from Bilawal House and the caravans from KP... all went and bowed at the same spot.”

Addressing them, he asked who they had “prostrated before” and what services that person had given to the country. “You have lost even though you won and we have won despite having lost,” Nawaz said. “We are not the ones to compromise... we are not the ones to sell Pakistan for our own benefit,” he added.

The ousted prime minister, who is now facing corruption trial in the accountability court, said he would not compromise on rights and integrity of the people of Pakistan and would continue the struggle for restoration of sanctity of vote and establishment of true democratic order in the country.

Amid the roaring slogans from the audience, Nawaz Sharif took the pledge from the people that they would not bow to anyone but God and continue their struggle for sanctity of vote and transforming Pakistan into a social welfare state by working hard and strengthening the democratic institutions.

Nawaz said they have made ‘sanctity of vote’ the manifesto of their party as he wanted to change the fate of the country so that the next 70 years of Pakistan would not be like the past 70 years - when the respect of vote and democratic institutions were repeatedly undermined. He said the manifesto of his party was [now] based on four words: “Vote ko izzat do [respect the people’s vote].”

He said that now he was taking it as a mission and took pledge from those present there to join him in his struggle for establishing true democratic order, telling them that by restoring the respect of vote and strengthening the democratic institutions they could change their fate and future.

Nawaz Sharif also spoke about the development feats achieved by his party and listed some of the mega projects initiated during his government. Looking toward Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, he said that sometimes he (Abbasi) says that he has got tired inaugurating so many projects.

It was not easy to end the era of loadshedding, he said, adding his government had managed to achieve the seemingly impossible mission. “We worked hard and resolved to erase the darkness from this land,” he said, adding the people who were experiencing 20-22 hours of loadshedding daily a few years ago were now living their days in peace.

Nawaz said multiple motorways and road projects started by him were either completed or are near completion. He said 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 was broken by the mistreatment meted out to him.

 

Make elections a referendum against ‘undemocratic forces’, Nawaz asks people