Perplexed by his political opponents’ labelling him as a “ladla” (blue-eyed) of the powerful military establishment, Pakistan’s former premier and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif has directed his party’s new manifesto committee to address this issue ahead of the February general elections, according to a media on Sunday, news agency PTI reported. The 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, who returned to Pakistan from London on October 21 after four years of self-imposed exile, is expected to head his party in the February 8, 2024 elections.
Sharif is displeased with the impression created by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that he is a “blue-eyed member of the military establishment and is set to return to power after receiving a clean chit from courts in the cases in which he was convicted and disqualified,” the Dawn newspaper reported, quoting a PML-N official.
Sharif, the only Pakistani politician to serve as prime minister of the coup-prone country three times, has directed the party’s new manifesto committee, which includes over 40 members, to develop a narrative to counter the impression of being the “establishment’s party and the ladla tag,” according to an insider.
“The elder Sharif is keen to dilute this impression ahead of the Feb 8 polls,” he added.
The PML-N also organised 30 sub-committees on Saturday, urging them to make proposals by November 20 for creating a new manifesto that will appeal to the public.
The party of Imran Khan has expressed worry over the absence of an equal playing field. The antagonism between the PML-N and the PPP has also heated up, with the latter alleging that the Nawaz-led party has a covert affiliation with the present caretaker administration.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari recently attacked the Sharifs, accusing them of conspiring with “selectors” – a word the PML-N used to refer to the establishment for supporting Imran Khan during his reign – to reclaim power.
In terms of the politics of selection and ladla, the former foreign minister even termed the PML-N a “king’s party,” stating: “I think we still have to struggle more so that this tradition of selection and choosing blue-eyed [politicians] comes to an end.”