After six years: Nawaz set to take over PMLN top office today

Ali Raza
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

LAHORE: After a gap of more than six years, Nawaz Sharif will once again become the president of his party on Tuesday (today).

Party sources said the election for the party president was initially scheduled for the second week of May but was later rescheduled for May 28, 2024, a date also celebrated as Youm-e-Takbir in Pakistan, marking Nawaz Sharif’s response to India’s nuclear tests in 1998.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has declared May 28, 2024, a public holiday, and a notification was issued on Monday. Nawaz Sharif had lost the position of prime minister and his party’s presidency on July 28, 2017, following the Panama Papers judgment. Since then, the PMLN has built a narrative around the slogan “Mujhy Kyun Nikala” (Why was I ousted?).

Former interior minister and PMLN’s Chief Election Commissioner Rana Sanaullah held a press conference on Monday, saying that the entire party had agreed that Nawaz Sharif should lead the party. He mentioned that the Central Working Committee had accepted Shehbaz Sharif’s resignation as party president but allowed him to continue his duties until the new party president was elected.

Rana Sanaullah explained that according to the party constitution, the Central Working Committee appointed the Election Commission, which issued the schedule for the election. Nomination papers will be received from 10am to 12pm today, checked at 1pm, and the final list will be prepared at 3pm.

A meeting of the central council of the PMLN is scheduled for 4pm, and any party member can submit nomination papers. Rana Sanaullah said that nomination papers are not filed in Jamaat-e-Islami, where the ameer is elected by the Shura, indicating that each party has its election methods. He clarified that he had no objection to Jamaat-e-Islami’s method.

He highlighted Nawaz Sharif’s role in transforming the PMLN into a party for the common man and Pakistan’s achievement of becoming a nuclear power under his leadership. He emphasised that fundamental party decisions have always involved Nawaz Sharif and will continue to do so.

He said that other party positions should be filled by different members and that Shehbaz Sharif remains a significant leader, especially noted for his efforts in restoring the economy. He mentioned that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi could submit his candidature documents, which would be scrutinised for eligibility.

Rana Sanaullah asserted that the PMLN is a party of dialogue and emphasised the importance of cooperation between the government and the opposition. He also expressed his hope that PTI’s founder avoids a fate similar to that of Mujeebur Rahman and stressed the need for dialogue.

He reassured that Nawaz Sharif is not angry with anyone and remains fully active. Fundamental decisions in the federal and Punjab governments involve Nawaz Sharif’s consultation and approval. Nawaz Sharif’s statements are expected to become more frequent over time.

If no other candidate submits nomination papers, Nawaz Sharif will be elected unopposed; otherwise, the election will be decided by a show of hands. Party sources mentioned that besides the election of the party president, the PMLN meeting will also discuss various resolutions to be presented to the general council.