Nawaz reclaims PML-N presidency after 6 years

Emboldened ex-PM dredges up old grievances, takes aim at imprisoned Imran

News Desk May 28, 2024
Newly elected PML-N President Nawaz Sharif addressing the party’s general council meeting in Lahore on Tuesday. SCREEENGRAB


PML-N supreme leader and founder Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday officially reclaimed the party presidency, sailing through “unopposed”, six years after a court ruling had removed him from office.

Emboldened after restoring a formal grip over the party's reins, the former prime minister, instead of laying out a roadmap for the future, kicked things off by dusting off old grievances and lamenting past injustices inflicted upon him.

Taking aim at his imprisoned rival while addressing the party's general council meeting after being elected to the top post, Nawaz kept PTI chief Imran Khan in the crosshairs – reflecting a palpable concern simmering within party ranks.

With meticulous attention to election protocols to ward off potential legal battles, the party conducted the presidential elections at a Lahore hotel

Rana Sanaullah, acting as the chief election commissioner for the presidential elections, formally announced Nawaz Sharif as the unopposed candidate for the party presidency.

Presenting Nawaz’s endorsement as party president before the general council, the decision received unanimous approval from all participants, effectively restoring the former premier’s leadership of the party.

Despite not holding the official title of party president until now, he had been effectively calling all the shots.Before the announcement of the election results, Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar addressed the gathering, attributing the decision to hold these elections to Shehbaz Sharif's resignation on May 11.

Also read: Nawaz elected unopposed as PML-N president

He declared that, according to party rules, a central working committee meeting had to be convened within seven days, which was held on May 18 and announced party elections for the post of president on May 28.

Rana Sanaullah announced that ten nomination papers were submitted in Nawaz Sharif's name, all of which were approved after scrutiny. He then asked the attendees to stand up if they wished to endorse Nawaz Sharif's appointment as party president, although it seemed unnecessary since no other candidate was contesting.

All party leaders, including Sanaullah, Ishaq Dar, and General Secretary Ahsan Iqbal, emphasized the importance of adhering to election requirements, codes, and formalities.


Dredging up old grievances

Though Nawaz Sharif's return to the throne at this juncture might hand PML-N a tactical advantage, considering the outgoing president held the position of incumbent PM, reinstating him as party leader allows for decisions to be run by him formally and even left to his approval, thereby taking some weight off the PM's shoulders.

In his typical fashion of bashing Imran Khan, Sharif pondered over his removal and the potential outcomes if he had been allowed to function uninterrupted. He also extolled the services and sacrifices of former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbassi and Miftah Ismail, both of whom have bid adieu to the party.Moreover, he acknowledged the attempts made by some to drive a wedge between him and his brother Shehbaz Sharif.

Despite the odds, he applauded his younger brother for standing by him through thick and thin.

The prime minister also recalled how Shehbaz Sharif was asked to abandon him and become PM, commending Shehbaz for rebuffing all such offers. He praised Shehbaz’s unfaltering commitment, noting that it even landed his sibling in hot water and ultimately behind bars.

He then took time to mention almost all those who had braved jail for their loyalty.

He asserted that PML-N has always managed to turn the tide for Pakistan during its time in power. He lamented that if there had been no disruptions in 1990, Pakistan would have been a force to be reckoned with on this continent. He said we've been having our legs pulled since 1947.

Alluding to his ousters from the premiership, he remarked that we have been shooting ourselves in the foot.

He reminded the attendees of the low commodity prices during his tenure, stressing that there was no ‘begging bowl’ in sight, and the government was not going hat in hand seeking foreign monetary assistance.

He highlighted several key achievements from his time in office, noting that they had built a network of motorways, restored peace, hit record highs in the stock exchange, and amassed foreign reserves that were through the roof."All this was taken away by four to five people," he remarked, adding that disqualifying him for not taking pay from his son was an absurd excuse.

Taking a shot at the imprisoned Imran Khan, he said, "If we had been ousted for looting 460 billion in the Al-Qadir Trust case, we wouldn't have had any objections. But disqualifying me for not taking a salary from my son? It's not like I was asking for a salary from your son," he joked.

He recounted his efforts to reconcile with Imran after the 2013 elections and revealed details about a 'London Plan' orchestrated by a serving military general, aimed at toppling his government.

He referenced a statement from an anchor, who claimed to have witnessed a meeting where the 'London Plan' was discussed, as well as another meeting where it was revealed that Nawaz Sharif was pressured to resign but refused, asserting, "I do not resign."

It's worth noting that the anchor in question has developed a reputation lately for being bitterly biased against Imran Khan.

Nawaz Sharif challenged Imran Khan, stating that if the latter could convincingly refute the notion that he was the "third force" being manipulated by the establishment to overthrow his government, he would retire from politics indefinitely.

He accused Imran Khan of launching his political career with the backing of the establishment. Sharif laid blame on Khan for the purported rigging of the 2018 elections.

Drawing a stark contrast, he highlighted their differing allegiances: "While we stand for May 28, when Pakistan's defence was made invincible, he represents May 9," alluding to the day military installations were attacked.

Meanwhile, in his scathing critique of Imran Khan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif accused him of tarnishing the reputations of families of armed forces members, those who make ultimate sacrifices for the peace and prosperity of Pakistan.

Shehbaz also aimed his criticism at the judiciary, alleging that there were a few “black sheep” within it who favour Imran Khan.

In a pointed address to those labelled as "black sheep," he asserted that Imran Khan had allegedly embezzled 190 million pounds, acquired luxury items, and amassed property, actions attributed not to PML-N.

Despite these allegations, there seemed to be an endless discussion about granting bail to him in all cases.

He emphasised that although the majority of judges were patriotic and aimed for Pakistan's prosperity, there were a few exceptions among them.


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