Sanaullah's praises for Nawaz 'expose poll charade'

Party's election commissioner justifies Nawaz's 'unopposed return' as PML-N president

Rameez Khan May 27, 2024
PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah addressing a press conference in Lahore on Monday, May 27, 2024. SCREENGRAB


As PML-N attempts to tick all the boxes to put a cloak of legitimacy over its party’s presidential elections, the ‘farce’ of this activity was laid bare after Rana Sanaullah – party’s chief election commissioner – inadvertently let the cat out of the bag while justifying party supremo Nawaz Sharif’s expected unopposed run.

The party's chief election commissioner couldn't help but shower praise upon Nawaz Sharif, apparently lifting the veil on the charade.

Holding a press conference alongside other designated members of the election committee, Sanaullah found himself in a tight spot as questions arose regarding the lack of diversity among the candidates.

He was questioned over the revelation that all nominees who have obtained nomination papers have thrown their weight behind Nawaz, exposing a deficit in democratic practices within the party's own folds.

However, in his attempt to defend the party's stance, Sanaullah went as far as comparing Nawaz Sharif to the country’s founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

He attributed to him the transformation of PML-N into a party representing the masses, allowing it to rule the centre thrice and Punjab four times.He recalled Nawaz Sharif's role in bolstering Pakistan's defence, suggesting that under his leadership, the country's military prowess deterred potential threats, including those from "Jews stationed in India for the last ten years".

He argued that considering his invaluable services to Pakistan, it should come as no surprise if the party chooses him to lead. He also sought to downplay the dubious nature of the matter, saying such occurrences were not exclusive to PML-N.

Oddly enough, the window for filing nomination papers extends until 10 o'clock on Tuesday (today), leaving the current scenario devoid of a clear frontrunner and casting doubt on the impartiality of the party's election commission, which appears to heavily Favor Nawaz Sharif.

During the opening remarks of the press conference, Sanaullah disclosed that eleven party members had secured nomination papers.

Among them were Bashir Memon, Irfan-ul-Haque Siddiqui, Anusha Rehman, Anjum Akeel, Tahira Aurangzeb, Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan, Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, and Shah Ghulam Qadir.

He noted that these individuals had the option to file nomination papers for their respective preferred candidates.

However, it was revealed earlier in the day that several of these individuals had indeed obtained nomination papers in support of Nawaz Sharif.When questioned about political parties operating like fiefdoms, he remarked that when party leaders are unjustly stripped of their positions, it naturally generates resistance both within and outside the party.

He attributed the Sharif family's prolonged leadership of the party to their repeated victimization, stating that if it weren't for this culture of victimisation, politics would have followed a more democratic path, resulting in numerous changes within the party and the country.

Also read: Shehbaz appointed interim PML-N president, Nawaz set for re-election on May 28

When asked if Nawaz Sharif would become more active after assuming the role of party president, Sanaullah responded that Nawaz’s much-missed presence would soon resume, adding that all party decisions were being made based on his advice.

Addressing potential changes in senior party positions, particularly the general secretary, he noted that those who have served for five years or more might be replaced.

He mentioned that with the change in leadership, underperformers would be sidelined, while those who have excelled would be given important portfolios.

Regarding the party's general council meeting, Sanaullah announced that it had been relocated from the central secretariat to Faletti's Hotel due to the heatwave.

He added that two members of the election commission committee would be present at the office at 10 am on Tuesday (today) to receive nomination papers.

Adding to the cloud of doubt over the legitimacy of the process, just hours before the elections, he said that if there were multiple candidates, voting would be conducted, either through a secret ballot or a show of hands.

‘Display of bias’Speaking with The Express Tribune, a senior lawyer and party member, who requested anonymity, asserted that Rana Sanaullah's public praise of Nawaz Sharif amounted to misconduct.

The lawyer pointed out that as a senior leader, Sanaullah should have been well aware of the responsibilities of the election commissioner. Any display of bias could potentially lead to legal challenges, he added.

Continuing his expression of frustration, he remarked that considering the challenges faced by PTI, greater caution should have been exercised. He questioned how Sanaullah could be certain that no one else would file nomination papers, especially since there was still time left in the process.

“Why justify Nawaz Sharif’s candidacy and credentials?” he asked.

He stated that the elections of all political parties would be subject to scrutiny, including those of PML-N. However, he added that the silver lining in this situation was that it would push parties towards embracing more democratic principles over time.

Former Punjab CM and political analyst Hasan Askari remarked that Sanaullah should have maintained impartiality and operated as an election commissioner rather than a loyalist to Nawaz Sharif, at least until the elections.

He also highlighted that the PML-N's presidential elections could face challenges, but once they pass that stage, they would be immune from legal hurdles. However, he pointed out that the credibility of the elections was not the issue at hand. As long powers are satisfied, all procedures, regardless of how farcical they may seem, will be deemed acceptable.

Conversely, if the situation were different, faults would be nitpicked, no matter how trivial or comically petty, to disqualify a party, as exemplified by the case of PTI.



Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ