NAWAZ SHARIF IS PAKISTAN’S NEW CAPTAIN
ISLAMABAD (TIP): The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is all set to form government in Islamabad as it has acquired majority in the National Assembly after as many as 17 independent winners of NA seats joined the Nawaz Sharif-led party. The News quoted sources as saying that a party meeting would be convened during the next two days to discuss formation of Cabinet. Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz Sharif met Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and invited him to join the government in Islamabad. However, Fazl sought time to seek consent of his party’s central committee.
The sources said that Fazl failed in convincing Sharif to form coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) emerged as the largest party in May 11 polls. Toppled in a 1999 military coup, jailed and exiled, Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif has made a triumphant election comeback and is certain to become the Prime Minister for a third time. The Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) has taken an unassailable lead in the landmark elections with its main rivals — former cricketer Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — trailing far behind.
To win a simple majority, a party or coalition would have to bag 137 of the 272 National Assembly seats for which polls were held. Another 70 seats in the 342- member National Assembly are reserved for women and minorities. Sharif is set to return to power at a time when Pakistan is facing several major challenges, including growing extremism, a strong Taliban presence in the country’s northwest, rampant corruption, uneasy relations with the US ahead of the withdrawal of foreign forces from war-torn Afghanistan and an economy that has virtually been in free fall for the past few years. Sharif ’s party is also set to form the government in the Punjab province where it was leading in 204 seats out of 304. The PTI was unexpectedly trailing far behind in Punjab though it was bracing for forming government in that province.
Sharif won reminding people of the path of progress on which the country was moving under his rule in 1990s and five years of good governance under his brother Shahbaz Sharif in Punjab after the 2008 polls. During his rallies, Sharif blamed the PPP for crippling power outages that hit Punjab most, paralysing its industry, disrupting social and economic life and rendering millions of factory workers unemployed. Amid wave that he will be the next premier, influential politicians who had been shifting parties in the past, moved in a big way to join the PML-N giving it a major victory.
The PML-N also got the backing of business houses, the middle class, factory workers and rural poor. Imran fascinated and motivated millions of youth, and educated middle class which turned up to vote in large numbers. Imran, who pledged to eliminate corruption, devolve power to lowest level in villages, recast relations with US, collect taxes from rich and run clean austere government, won on three seats — Peshawar, Rawalpindi and home district Mianwali — of the four he contested. He, however, lost to his former party loyalist Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N in Lahore.
Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif won handily on two seats each and so did PTI’s president Javed Hashmi while its chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi lost on both seats he contested. The PPP was routed in Punjab and was the case of its ally, ANP in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, where its president Asfandyar Wali Khan also lost. Rudderless and leaderless, it failed to conduct any election campaign in the country. The Bhutto name, however, won for it Sindh province. It newly appointed presidents Manzoor Wattoo in Punjab and Anwar Saifullah in KP lost. The party could win only one National Assembly seat in Punjab. Former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was also demolished badly. Individually, former minister Shaikh Rashid won in Rawalpindi with the PTI help and Ejazul Haq, son of ex-military dictator Ziaul Haq, won in Bahawalnagar.