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PML-N pitches Shehbaz Sharif as Punjab’s chief minister

“It is Punjab’s need that Shehbaz Sharif take charge of Punjab’s affairs,” Rana Sanaullah says

Former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 25, 2022. — PID
  • Sanaullah says Punjab needs Shehbaz to take charge.
  • PML-N leader says Shehbaz ready to serve under Nawaz.
  • Former interior minister blames Imran for May 9 riots.

With elections closing in, a top Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader has said that his party’s candidate for Punjab’s chief ministership would be the younger Sharif — Shehbaz.

Shehbaz has served as Pakistan’s most populous province’s chief minister for a record three times — 1997-99, 2008-13 and 2013-18 — and was also the prime minister for around 16 months, when the Pakistan Democratic Movement came into power after ousting Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The PML-N is yet to begin its election campaign ahead of the February 8 elections, but its supremo Nawaz Sharif has returned to the country and is getting his legal affairs sorted in a bid to contest the polls and become the prime minister for the fourth time.

“In my personal opinion, given the destruction during the Buzdar regime and in the manner in which Punjab was progressing till 2018, it is Punjab’s need that Shehbaz Sharif take charge of Punjab’s affairs,” PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah told Geo News’ Shahzeb Khanzada.

“Had Shehbaz Sharif got the opportunity to [serve as the chief minister] after the 2018 elections as well, then Punjab would have become an example for the rest of Pakistan,” Sanaullah, who served as the interior minister under Shehbaz in the Centre, said.

The top PML-N leader in line with his assessment, Shehbaz — despite being elected to the top office in the centre — would be ready to work under the leadership of Nawaz at any post.

“My assessment says that Shehbaz Sharif will be ready to work with Nawaz Sharif in any capacity. He will not complain about it,” the ex-interior minister said.

When questioned about whether PML-N leaders Hamza Shehbaz (Shehbaz’s son) and Maryam Nawaz (Nawaz’s daughter) would be willing to work under the proposed leadership, he said: “They have served jail time together while in opposition. I’m sure they will serve in whatever capacity the party assigns them.”

Sanaullah also mentioned that Nawaz would overcome his legal obstacles and become the prime minister and if his convictions weren’t cleared, then the party would adopt another strategy.

In the same interview, he also said that PTI Chairman Imran brought himself to the situation. “His pride led […] to the events of May 9. It was his policy of confrontation that took them where they are now.”

Imran is currently in prison and is accused of revealing state secrets. However, his participation in the elections remains in doubt. If he is convicted, he will not be able to partake in the polls.

Sanaullah also mentioned that even if a party secures a two-third majority, it would not be able to take the country out of the crises alone as all political parties would need to work together for Pakistan’s betterment.

With elections closing in, major political parties have started electioneering — either through getting politicos to join their ranks or holding rallies across cities — but some have also raised concerns regarding a “level-playing field”, claiming that they aren’t being allowed to hold political activities.

However, the caretaker government — appointed to oversee the country’s affairs until an elected government takes charge — has ruled out favouring any party, stressing that it treats all political parties equally.

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