With less than two weeks to go until the February 8 general elections, electioneering picked up steam in the country on Sunday as major political parties staged rallies to try and woo voters.
While the PML-N and the PPP held large gatherings in the country, the PTI’s rallies were thwarted by police.
Nawaz promises employment for country’s youth
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif emphasised the need to question those responsible for “injustices” against the people. Speaking at a rally in Sialkot, Nawaz expressed regret over the current state of Pakistan, noting that the country he had left behind in 2017 no longer existed, and the employment promised for the youth had not materialised.
He pledged to support the country’s youth, asserting that the PML-N would create job opportunities and provide educational tools to them. He also highlighted the drastic increase in petrol prices, saying they had surged from Rs65 per litre to over Rs260 since he left office.
Speaking at the same rally, ex-premier Shehbaz Sharif expressed confidence that the public would choose Nawaz based on his past accomplishments. He also highlighted Nawaz’s role in making the country a nuclear power.
Shehbaz pledged to establish an IT city in Sialkot if the PML-N was voted to power, emphasising the party’s commitment to providing skilled education to the youth. He further promised that, if elected, the PML-N under Nawaz’s leadership would tirelessly serve the masses day and night.
PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz assured that every commitment made by Nawaz to the public would be honored.
Encouraging the public to exercise their right to vote carefully, she said, “Your future lies in securing respectable employment, not in petrol bombs.”
Maryam further urged PML-N supporters not to stay home on Feb 8 and instead cast their votes for the PML-N.
Zardari says only ‘genuine political forces’ can solve country’s issues
Meanwhile, ex-president Asif Zardari 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 told a rally in Balochistan’s Hub, without elaborating further.
He added that Balochistan was deprived of development projects despite an increase in its budget four times since the 18th Amendment was passed. “I cannot see the budget being spent anywhere,” Zardari said.
He asserted that the people of Hub also deserved colleges, hospitals, and universities.
“This is not a big task. Karachi’s investors will do this if law and order can be fixed. I only request the people here to guide those innocent people and kids who take up arms against the state,” Zardari added.
He urged the people of Balochistan to tread the path of democracy instead of taking up arms against the state.
Zardari told the rally that the PPP never picked up arms despite the challenges it had faced. “Instead, we protested on the streets in the form of rallies and are still fighting for democracy,” he said, promising to give the Baloch their due rights.
Bilawal says PPP to rid country of economic crisis after coming to power
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari affirmed that his party was committed to combatting “all terrorists”.
Addressing a rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh, the former foreign minister said: “There will be no good or bad Taliban. We will fight all terrorists. We can only forgive those who abide by the Constitution.”
He added that any group resorting to taking up weapons against the state would receive a befitting response.
“It is crucial to address the issue of terrorism promptly. Pakistan has a tendency to make excuses until terrorism reaches its peak and endangers our children. Only then do we engage in the fight against terrorists,” Bilawal said.
He was of the view that only the PPP could rid the country of the economic, democratic, and social crises it was embroiled in. “We took Benazir’s ideology forward and presented our manifesto based on the principles of fighting poverty and unemployment,” he said.
Bilawal also vowed to bury the concept of revenge politics and form a “truth and reconciliation commission” after coming into power.
Towards the end of his address, he urged the people to vote for the “arrow” and said that PPP was the only political party that could take all stakeholders forward.
PTI unveils manifesto
Separately, PTI’s Barrister Gohar Khan unveiled the party’s election manifesto which promised social and constitutional reforms.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Gohar said PTI’s manifesto was titled ‘Shandaar Pakistan, Shandaar Mustaqbil aur Kharaab Maazi sey chutkara’. He said that the party leaders who compiled the document were unable to be present for the press conference over fears of being arrested.
Talking about the manifesto, the PTI leader promised to form a truth and reconciliation commission to address the injustices faced by the common man.
He said that the party had always emphasised that the rule of law should prevail in the country and every citizen should be treated equally.
“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.
He said that another section of the manifesto focused on modelling the country after ‘Riyasat-i-Madina’ (State of Madina). He said that some criminal and civil laws in the country were either too lengthy or too complicated.
“The Code of Criminal Procedure will be reformed so that the people are protected,” he said, adding that the party did not want the poor to suffer at the hands of outdated laws.
He further said that the party would introduce constitutional 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 per cent of Senators,” he added.
Commenting on the economy, Gohar promised to reform the tax scheme and also increase the tax bracket. He further said that farmers would be provided a subsidy to help them stand on their feet.
He also talked about the implementation of solar energy projects on a large scale and said the party would also introduce a universal health card. He further said the party was committed to bringing educational reforms and introducing a singular education system throughout the country.
He said that the manifesto also had a section which provided a detailed account of the values that should be taught to the youth which could help them prosper.
“The values of the youth, their education and participation in politics. We have kept a lot of incentives for them,” Gohar said.
He went on to say that if his party came into power, it would also provide social security for citizens.
Gohar emphasised it was necessary to get rid of corruption and promised that the party would introduce an initiative that would keep a tougher eye on the issue.
Talking about foreign policy, the PTI leader said 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 said.
JI Karachi chief calls for fair revenue allocation to metropolis
Jamaat-i-Islami Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said that the country could experience significant progress if Karachi was granted its rightful share in revenue.
Speaking at a rally in the metropolis, Rehman emphasised Karachi’s pivotal role in propelling Pakistan forward.
He criticised leaders who sought aid from other countries for basic necessities and proposed that allocating sufficient funds to Karachi could transform the entire nation.
Rehman accused the current rulers of lacking sincerity towards the city and impeding its development, attributing the city’s educational decline to a feudal mindset.
He warned that the JI would continue to voice concerns against perceived injustices to the city’s youth, stating that the party was now at the forefront and determined to prevent setbacks for the people of Karachi.