AIRLINK 65.20 Decreased By ▼ -0.70 (-1.06%)
BOP 5.57 Decreased By ▼ -0.12 (-2.11%)
CNERGY 4.56 Decreased By ▼ -0.09 (-1.94%)
DFML 24.52 Increased By ▲ 1.67 (7.31%)
DGKC 69.96 Decreased By ▼ -0.74 (-1.05%)
FCCL 20.30 Decreased By ▼ -0.05 (-0.25%)
FFBL 29.11 No Change ▼ 0.00 (0%)
FFL 9.83 Decreased By ▼ -0.10 (-1.01%)
GGL 10.01 Decreased By ▼ -0.07 (-0.69%)
HBL 114.25 Decreased By ▼ -1.00 (-0.87%)
HUBC 129.10 Decreased By ▼ -0.40 (-0.31%)
HUMNL 6.71 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.15%)
KEL 4.44 Increased By ▲ 0.06 (1.37%)
KOSM 4.89 Decreased By ▼ -0.13 (-2.59%)
MLCF 37.00 Increased By ▲ 0.04 (0.11%)
OGDC 132.30 Increased By ▲ 1.10 (0.84%)
PAEL 22.54 Increased By ▲ 0.06 (0.27%)
PIAA 25.89 Decreased By ▼ -0.41 (-1.56%)
PIBTL 6.60 Increased By ▲ 0.07 (1.07%)
PPL 112.85 Increased By ▲ 0.73 (0.65%)
PRL 29.41 Increased By ▲ 1.02 (3.59%)
PTC 15.24 Decreased By ▼ -0.87 (-5.4%)
SEARL 57.03 Decreased By ▼ -1.26 (-2.16%)
SNGP 66.45 Increased By ▲ 0.76 (1.16%)
SSGC 10.98 Decreased By ▼ -0.04 (-0.36%)
TELE 8.80 Decreased By ▼ -0.14 (-1.57%)
TPLP 11.70 Increased By ▲ 0.17 (1.47%)
TRG 68.62 Decreased By ▼ -0.62 (-0.9%)
UNITY 23.40 Decreased By ▼ -0.55 (-2.3%)
WTL 1.38 Increased By ▲ 0.03 (2.22%)
BR100 7,295 Decreased By -9.1 (-0.12%)
BR30 23,854 Decreased By -96 (-0.4%)
KSE100 70,290 Decreased By -43.2 (-0.06%)
KSE30 23,171 Increased By 50.4 (0.22%)
Pakistan

Pakistan dynasty’s crown jewel breeds resentment

Published February 23, 2024
Nawaz Sharif’s party had hoped to do better in Punjab but many voters there chose to abstain, or to pick Imran Khan loyalists instead. Photo: AFP
Nawaz Sharif’s party had hoped to do better in Punjab but many voters there chose to abstain, or to pick Imran Khan loyalists instead. Photo: AFP

LAHORE: Under the dizzying lights and gleaming monuments of Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore, Sidra Bilal’s mind drifts to her rural hometown, a backwater of broken promises that led her to abstain from this month’s election.

“They’re as different from each other as the sky is from the earth,” said the 27-year-old, who relocated to Lahore six years ago from the hardscrabble town of Head Balloki, 50 kilometres (30 miles) away.

In the February 8 election, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) had been tipped to win a majority, reliant on its traditional support base of Punjab province, where Lahore sits.

 Sidra Bilal working at a printing press in Lahore. Under the dizzying lights and gleaming monuments of Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore, Sidra Bilal’s mind drifts to her rural hometown, a backwater of broken promises that led her to abstain from this month’s election.
Sidra Bilal working at a printing press in Lahore. Under the dizzying lights and gleaming monuments of Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore, Sidra Bilal’s mind drifts to her rural hometown, a backwater of broken promises that led her to abstain from this month’s election.

Instead, dejected voters from towns around Punjab chose to abstain or vote for candidates loyal to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, leaving the Sharifs no choice but to forge a shaky coalition in order to clinch power.

In Pakistan’s most populous province, the election result signalled that voters were weary of decades of failed development pledges from the Sharifs for areas outside Lahore.

Bilal’s family are stalwart PML-N supporters and pleaded she cast her ballot for them two weeks ago.

Punjab Assembly session begins

To protest the ongoing dearth of schools and healthcare in her hometown, which had spurred her migration to Lahore, she abstained.

“I did not vote,” said Bilal, who works as an editor. “I could not bring myself to stand with the wrong side.”

‘What are they giving us?’

Home to around 14 million people, Lahore has sucked up half of Punjab’s development budget in recent years, according to government data.

The investment means less than 10 percent of Lahoris live below the poverty line, but in other parts of Punjab that number jumps to around 70 percent.

“Lahore is a big city, the heart of Pakistan. There is a lot of development here,” 35-year-old Shah Zaman explained from his office at a publishing firm.

But when he makes the 140-kilometre journey to his home near the city of Okara, Zaman said the little work achieved by the PML-N is “mostly useless”.

Three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who often campaigned sporting a Gucci baseball cap, had been expected to sweep into power.

The PML-N, however, increased their elected seats in the national assembly and Punjab provincial parliament by only slim margins.

 Women walking past a banner of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party election candidate (R) displayed near posters of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party election candidates along a street in Sheikhupura. Lahore’s $1.6 billion new metro system scoots commuters across a metropolis of gridlocked roads – but the line ends well before the satellite city of Sheikhupura, once a stronghold of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party but they lost out to a candidate loyal to former jailed prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Photo: AFP
Women walking past a banner of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party election candidate (R) displayed near posters of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party election candidates along a street in Sheikhupura. Lahore’s $1.6 billion new metro system scoots commuters across a metropolis of gridlocked roads – but the line ends well before the satellite city of Sheikhupura, once a stronghold of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party but they lost out to a candidate loyal to former jailed prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Photo: AFP

Nawaz flew back from years of self-imposed medical exile in London to lead the election campaign after seeing his graft convictions dissolve.

Sindh Assembly’s session called for tomorrow

Now the PML-N are poised to take power only through a coalition, and the prime ministerial position is set to go to Nawaz’s brother Shehbaz, considered softer and more pliable to influence.

Eroded voter base

Faltering loyalty for the Sharif clan in Punjab was in part to blame for the PML-N underperforming, according to Gallup Pakistan analyst Bilal Gilani.

“They were more confident in areas where they’ve traditionally won,” he said. “It is in these territories that they’ve lost more.”

“There was some sort of over-confidence on their part,” he added.

Lahore’s $1.6 billion new metro system scoots commuters across a metropolis of gridlocked roads – but the line ends well before the satellite city of Sheikhupura.

The city was once a PML-N stronghold but the party lost out to a candidate loyal to Khan.

Here residents complain about crumbling infrastructure – problems compounded by a grinding economic crisis pummelling the rupee and sending inflation soaring.

 Men walking across a temporary bridge over a polluted canal in Sheikhupura. Lahore’s $1.6 billion new metro system scoots commuters across a metropolis of gridlocked roads – but the line ends well before the satellite city of Sheikhupura, once a stronghold of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party but they lost out to a candidate loyal to former jailed prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
AFP
Men walking across a temporary bridge over a polluted canal in Sheikhupura. Lahore’s $1.6 billion new metro system scoots commuters across a metropolis of gridlocked roads – but the line ends well before the satellite city of Sheikhupura, once a stronghold of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party but they lost out to a candidate loyal to former jailed prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. AFP

“When I look at Lahore, I want my city to look like that,” said Sani Mushtaq. “Even animals do not live in this place where we have to get by,” the 25-year-old labourer added.

JI demands ‘audit’ of election process

“Look at how filthy and polluted Sheikhupura is,” said Sakina Bibi, 45. “No sewer lines, no gas. What are they giving us? They only want our votes?”

Comments

200 characters
E Feb 23, 2024 03:44pm
Misrepresentation of facts. Pml n did not win the most seats. Most voters voted for pti. But pti was denied mandate. Which is a good thing considering looming loan payments in billions of usd.
thumb_up Recommended (0) reply Reply
ISZ Feb 23, 2024 07:42pm
@E, I heard 25 billions over 3 or 4 years need to be returned. These goons will pring money out of thin year, making inflatioin unbearable and tax ordinary Pakistani while there ladlays live overseas.
thumb_up Recommended (0) reply Reply
Hello Feb 23, 2024 07:45pm
Interesting the rural votes and neglected areas have expectations beyond patronage
thumb_up Recommended (0) reply Reply