As the PML-N flexed its muscles at a charged rally in Sheikhupura on Sunday, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to clean sweep the upcoming General Election, reiterating his claim that he had been removed from office for pursuing an agenda of development and progress.
The PML-N chief and his daughter Maryam Nawaz addressed a large gathering of supporters at Sheikhupura’s Company Bagh, where both claimed the former premier was “punished” for serving the people.
Nawaz took on both, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the PPP, claiming none of his opponents had ever undertaken a single development project. “Ask the PPP, ask the blue-eyed boy’s (ladla) party,” he said in a veiled reference to PTI chief Imran Khan, “The name of a single project that they have either started or completed.”
He expressed hope that those talking about the umpire’s finger ─ another veiled reference to Khan, who famously during his party’s 2014 sit-in had said the “umpire was about to raise his finger” ─ would face a defeat in the 2018 election.
“We already bid the PPP goodbye, and now the time has come to see off the people who talk about the umpire’s finger,” he added.
Sharif maintained that Peshawar and Karachi had been ruined by the PTI and PPP whereas his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had continuously delivered development projects one after another and transformed Lahore into the most beautiful city in the country.
“The country had been touching new highs of progress, when they ousted Nawaz Sharif because he eliminated terrorism, load shedding, and started work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” he said adding that the PML-N government led by him had secured foreign investment of $56 billion in the country.
“I ask why was I ousted. Do you people realise the reason behind my ouster?” he asked, and then responded to his own question, saying that he knew he had been disqualified as ‘punishment’ for making motorways in the 1990s, for making Pakistan a nuclear power and then pushing an agenda of development.
Addressing a crowd of party workers and supports, the former premier said he had been elected for five years in 1990, 1997 and 2013 but was ousted after two, three and four years respectively during each term as prime minister.
He also claimed credit for several positive developments in the country, ranging from the restoration of peace in Karachi to making progress in the education, power and health sectors.
Nawaz ousted by those who wish to put a stop to your votes, Maryam tells supporters
Nawaz’s daughter, Maryam, took the stage before her father asking whether his supporters agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify him as prime minister.
“This is not just a case against Nawaz Sharif, it is a case against each person who voted for him,” she said. “Despite your votes, Nawaz Sharif was not allowed to finish his term. This has happened with him thrice, not just one time,” she added.
“Each time he was ousted by those who wish to put a stop to your votes,” she claimed. “The same happened in 1999, from 2000 to 2010, and from 2017 to 2018. Will the same spectacle be allowed to keep happening, or will you do something about it?” she asked the energetic crowd.
“Why does this happen with Nawaz Sharif each time? I know why it happens. Because whenever he comes to power, he serves you. He provides you power, he builds motorways, hospitals, universities, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. And in return, he receives your affection. This is the punishment handed to Nawaz Sharif for this each time. And in 40 years, I have only seen your love for him increase,” she added.
The former PM took to the stage after his daughter, as his been a common practice at a series of rallies they have addressed this year.
Earlier in the day, Nawaz and his daughter, Maryam, arrived at the venue where a large number of supporters and party workers welcomed them.
“As we were making our way to the venue for the rally, the venue was quite far off but it seemed as though all of Sheikhupura was the rally ground,” Maryam said, addressing PML-N supporters.
In a video shared on Twitter after the rally, Maryam can be heard asking her father to pretend she is a journalist and to share his thoughts on the support for the party displayed on the streets.
“I have come to Sheikhupura many times, but I have not seen a display like this before,” he replies.
Gold crown for Maryam
PML-N supporters in the area prepared a gold crown studded with diamonds as a gift honouring the former premier’s daughter.
Speaking to DawnNews, the head of a local traders’ body said: “It is an 8-tola gold crown. The diamonds were more expensive. But the lump sum is no object, we are proud to present our leaders this gift.”
This is the second rally the father-daughter duo have attended in as many days.
On Saturday, Nawaz, his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza, and Maryam all put up a united front in Lodhran, where PML-N candidate Syed Iqbal Shah on Monday won the NA-154 by-poll with a sizeable margin of some 25,000 votes against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Ali Tareen, the son of Jahangir Tareen.
Maryam had separately addressed a social media workers’ convention in Mansehra on Friday.