IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE

Nawaz’s party in the election campaign, PTI is not getting permission for the rally

Abdur Rahman Khan

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the political party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, which is leading the race to win next month’s general elections in Pakistan, has officially started its election campaign. The PML-N began campaigning on Monday amid opposition allegations that the army’s support was already giving Nawaz an edge over rivals. However, it has been alleged that the authorities are not allowing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the political party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, to hold rallies.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has fixed the date of general elections in the country on February 8. Ahead of this election in Pakistan, there have been accusations of widespread repression by the administration against the leaders and activists of the party of Nawaz Sharif’s main rival and imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The political situation is heating up in the election campaign of Nawaz’s party amid the ongoing uncertainty in the country.

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz on Monday launched the PML-N’s election campaign from the eastern city of Okara in the country’s Punjab province. Maryam is considered as the political successor of Nawaz.

Pakistan is facing a massive economic crisis with inflation currently hovering around 30 percent. A strong anti-government attitude has been seen among the general voters of the country. “The more you vote for us, the more your family’s expenses will be reduced,” Nawaz’s daughter said during the election campaign.

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif returned home from London at the end of last year after nearly four years of self-imposed exile. He has promised to turn around Pakistan’s 3.5 billion US dollar economy, which is suffering from high inflation, unstable currency market and low reserves. However, Pakistan avoided the risk of default by accepting the first round of bailouts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last summer.

Analysts believe that with Imran Khan, a 71-year-old former cricket star in power, the South Asian country’s powerful military force has been largely at a standstill. Later Imran Khan resigned from power after losing the vote of no confidence in the parliament. He is currently in jail after being convicted in a case of looting gifts from the state treasury. A fierce conflict also arose in the country over this. Army shakes hands against Imran Khan.

On the other hand, 74-year-old Nawaz Sharif is believed to have returned to the country with the support of the military. It is this support of Pakistan’s powerful military that keeps Nawaz and his party ahead in the February 8 elections. The Pakistan Army, however, has denied the allegations, saying it is politically neutral.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the political party of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has participated in this election. This party has also already started the election campaign. However, PPP’s election campaign is considered to be somewhat weaker than the last election.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has belatedly started campaigning, but Imran Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said the authorities are not allowing them to hold rallies. PTI candidates have alleged that they are facing various hurdles.

Pakistani analysts and opposition politicians say Imran Khan’s PTI won the 2018 election with the military’s support. And in this election, various state-backed institutions are trying legal and other means to stop PTI candidates from contesting the election.

Nawaz Sharif was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1990, 1997 and 2013. In 2017, he was convicted in a corruption case involving conflict with the military. Later he went to London for treatment. The former Prime Minister of the country has returned to the country from a long voluntary exile and participated in the elections again.

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