Pakistan political parties pace up election campaigns as polls inch closer

Former premier Nawaz Sharif speaking at a rally in Sialkot said that the country he had left behind in 2017 no longer existed

January 29, 2024 05:18 am | Updated 05:18 am IST - Islamabad

Supporters of the Pakistani religious group’ Jamaat-e-Islami’ attend an election campaign rally in Karachi, Pakistan.

Supporters of the Pakistani religious group’ Jamaat-e-Islami’ attend an election campaign rally in Karachi, Pakistan. | Photo Credit: AP

Pakistan’s leading political parties paced up their election campaigns on January 28 with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf launching its manifesto while other mainstream parties held big rallies.

Barrister Gohar Khan at a press conference in Islamabad unveiled the PTI’s election manifesto, promising constitutional reforms.

Also Read | Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan, party erased from election campaign

Titled ‘Shandaar Pakistan, Shandaar Mustaqbil aur Kharab Maazi sey chutkara’, Gohar Khan promised to bring constitutional and economic reforms.

“One of the reforms would be that the prime minister will directly be selected by the people,” Barrister Gohar said.

“We will decrease the National Assembly’s tenure to four years, bring the Senate tenure to five years and will directly elect 50% of Senators,” he added.

He said that another section of the manifesto focused on modelling the country after ‘Riyasat-i-Madina’ (State of Madina), adding that some criminal and civil laws in the country were either too lengthy or too complicated.

“We cannot have two laws, one for the rich and one for the poor,” he added. “As a barrister, I would say that rule of law is fundamental for every country,” he said.

The document also envisages changes in the economy to improve tax collection and address the energy shortages issues. On the foreign policy he said that Pakistan needed to have a relationship based on equality with all countries.

“Our first principle is that no one can interfere with Pakistan’s internal affairs,” Gohar said. “We have adopted a policy regarding it and will move accordingly.”

He also announced to formation of a truth and reconciliation commission to address the injustices faced by the common man, while saying that PTI leaders who compiled the manifesto were unable to attend the press conference over fears of being arrested.

Other leading parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) held political gatherings to woo the voters.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif speaking at a rally in Sialkot said that the country he had left behind in 2017 no longer existed. He promised to create jobs for the youth and better education for all.

His younger brother and another former premier addressing the same rally pledged to establish an IT city in Sialkot if the PML-N was voted to power. Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz assured that every commitment made by her father would be honored.

Rival PPO leader and ex-president Asif Zardari addressing a rally in the Hub area of Balochistan said only genuine political forces knew how to address the issues the country was facing.

“Only genuine political forces have solutions to the problems of the country. Not the political forces created by them or even the force they are trying to create now,” he said.

He asserted that the people of Hub also deserved colleges, hospitals, and universities.

Separately, Zardari’s son and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in his address at a rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh area, where his mother was attacked and killed after addressing a rally in 2007, said his party was committed to combating “all terrorists”.

“There will be no good or bad Taliban. We will fight all terrorists. We can only forgive those who abide by the Constitution,” he said, adding that any group resorting to taking up weapons against the state would receive a befitting response.

Elections are scheduled to be held on February 8 and rival parties have been trying to convince the voters to vote for their candidates. Though, PTI, PML-N and PPP are the three leading parties, several other parties are also in the contest, making it a tough competition for the candidates.

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