More Than A Political Beacon: Nawaz Sharif The Lynchpin Of PML-N's Election Campaign

Party members say the party will kick off its electoral campaign with a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan next week with Nawaz to take over electoral strategy 

More Than A Political Beacon: Nawaz Sharif The Lynchpin Of PML-N's Election Campaign

With the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif finally commencing his journey towards Pakistan to end his four-year exile, his party is scrambling to put together an 'extraordinary welcome'. But beyond being the central focus of a welcome rally at Minar-e-Pakistan, Nawaz will probably return as the lynchpin for his party's political prospects and the main orchestrator of its electoral campaign.

Party insiders told [The Friday Times] that Nawaz will likely land aboard a chartered plane in Lahore on Saturday, October 21. He will first 'clean' himself of the cases against him and seek to overturn his disqualification before organising the party's affairs for the elections. 

The three-time prime minister, party members have tipped, will seek to compete for a fourth term in the general elections slated for January 2024.

Nawaz Sharif, who has been in self-imposed exile since 2019, had left Pakistan for London in the middle of his seven-year jail term on medical grounds. He was subsequently declared a proclaimed offender in the Al Azizia and Avenfield graft cases for his continuous absence from proceedings and his failure to return to Pakistan despite providing a clear timeline to do so.

PML-N senior politician Riaz Hussain Pirzada told [The Friday Times] that Nawaz is expected to be hands-on in sorting out the party's electoral strategy. Key among which would be to formally grant his nod to party workers to launch their electoral campaigns nationwide.

"It is obvious that the election campaign will gain momentum with the arrival of the party leadership in the country," he said.

Asked what would be the focus of their party's campaign, Pirzada said that the country's economic condition is likely to form the main thrust.

"Political opponents will not be targeted like in past electoral campaigns," he said tellingly, adding that the upcoming general elections will be very different from other elections in the past.

Pirzada, however, expressed his optimism that Nawaz Sharif will be able to secure a two-thirds majority in the upcoming general elections.

Background discussions with other leaders of PML-N showed that soon, they will launch a media blitz as part of their campaign. For this purpose, they have contracted the services of various advertisement agencies.

They added that the party's main election campaign will be launched with Nawaz Sharif's expected appearance at a grand rally in Minar-e-Pakistan on October 21. They further claimed that not just the PML-N but all other major political parties in the country would launch their political campaigns with Nawaz Sharif's return.

Moreover, those party members who won in their constituency in the last elections have been asked to ensure the completion of work in each ward or union council in their constituency and to launch electoral campaigns at the local level.

Following last week's statement from former defence minister Khawaja Asif, where he claimed that Nawaz Sharif would make history after being elected as the prime minister for a fourth time, party members claimed that there was a plan to start projecting Nawaz Sharif as the next 'prime minister' in campaigns.

Some senior party members said they had asked party workers to launch an aggressive campaign with freedom to target political opponents for their economic missteps.

Some party members have suggested that there will be some seat adjustments in some constituencies, but this is likely to take final shape as planning by the party's central leadership advances to that stage. 

However, some party members suggested that there may not be any seat adjustment in Punjab, at least as it would reflect poorly on the party's ability to secure votes in the province.

Meanwhile, political experts noted that Nawaz Sharif returns on less than solid ground. They pointed to his medical reports recently submitted to the Lahore High Court. 

"Some residual anginal symptoms [remain]," read the report submitted to the LHC, adding that Nawaz required "frequent follow-up" checkups and tests in London and Pakistan.

The Elections Commission of Pakistan has recently conveyed all the political parties to ensure free, fair and transparent elections by the end of January. At the same time, the political parties expressed their fear of possible rigging in the upcoming polls.