ISLAMABAD: Islamabad. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will aim to target Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in its stronghold of Abottabad, as he launches his party’s election campaign on Sunday, by slamming the policies and governance of Imran Khan’s party in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The ruling camp has decided to ‘pay the PTI in the same coin’ by targeting its policies in K-P after it held consultations with its leadership in Lahore and Islamabad.
Sources in the PML-N said that Sharif decided to launch PML-N’s electoral campaign for the general polls by addressing a public gathering in Abbottabad on account of the garrison city’s political importance.
Previously, the region was PML-N’s stronghold but it became a PTI fortress after it managed to win over the ruling party’s vote bank in the 2013 general elections and local bodies elections in 2015.
Sources close to Sharif told The Express Tribune, that the deposed prime minister has been briefed about the situation in Hazara region and Abbottabad in particular.
In the recent past, cases have surfaced where PTI’s elected representatives from Abbottabad had to face public humiliation due to their alleged disconnect with their constituents.
A senior PTI office-bearer in Hazara,who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The public resentment mainly stems from the fact that PTI lawmakers, from Hazara in particular, have spent most of their time in Peshawar or Islamabad in the last four years. Now, general elections are approaching and these leaders have to visit their constituencies but have to face the public’s wrath.”
The PTI leader admitted that the existing conditions in Hazara needed urgent steps for improvement to enable PTI to secure its vote bank. “In Abbottabad alone only one hospital, the Ayub Medical Complex, has been upgraded. But other hospitals like District Headquarters (DHQ) hospital are in horrible condition.”
The source said that the PML-N leadership in Hazara is also cognisant of the situation and has advised its top leadership to visit the region and exploit the existing circumstances
A PML-N lawmaker, while commenting on Sharif’s address, said that the former premier would highlight the lack of civic management and infrastructure projects including poor drainage and sewerage conditions across Hazara.
However, PTI Hazara Region President Zar Gul Khan, when contacted, defended his party’s policies. He said the Sehat Ka Insaf card scheme, Billion Tree Tsunami campaign, improved health, education facilities, streamlining police functioning and replacing patwari culture with modernised revenue system were larger than life initiatives taken in the province.
The MPA also claimed that Centre owed Rs36 billion to K-P, adding that the chief minister had also taken up the matter with the federal government but the funds are yet to be released. He added, “This [lack of funds] is also causing a delay in the execution of infrastructure projects.”
Meanwhile, President PML-N K-P chapter Amir Muqam argued otherwise. “Abbottabad is regarded as summer capital of Pakistan. You name any hospital they have built in Abbottabad in the last four years,” he asked.
Responding to the lack of funding issue, he said a significant chunk of funds had been released since PM Abbasi took charge. “The remaining funds would be released soon. The PM has extended personal assurances to CM K-P in this regard. It’s not about funds. It’s about the will that is lacking in K-P,” Muqam said.