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Monday February 26, 2024

Election excitement

November 29, 2023

As the general elections draw near and political activity builds up, social media, TV and the newspapers are abuzz with election-related news. Many of these news reports are claimed to be ‘breaking news’, but they turn out to be reports of politicians saying goodbye to their old party and joining another one.

These leaders usually justify their move by saying that the leadership of their last party did not care about the views they presented in public interest. Changing loyalties for political aims is the name of the game.

Pakistani society has become politically polarized to such an extent that it is not possible to indulge in a logical discussion among followers of opposite parties. The PTI in this matter takes the cake. You discuss an issue with a PTI diehard, s/he will soon raise his/her voice and tend to use uncivil language.

A voter casts her ballot in a by-election in Lahore. — AFP/File
A voter casts her ballot in a by-election in Lahore. — AFP/File

Talking loud and using foul language against political opponents has been the hallmark of the PTI’s leaders and followers. Comparatively, PML-N followers are mild-mannered.

Moreover, when judged by the honesty level of the politicians, it would involve taking up a long route including the legal one. As it is, most of our politicians are tainted with court cases right or wrong.

On a serious note, a leader should be judged for his effectiveness in delivering to the nation that elected him into high office. Shehbaz Sharif has a reputation for being an achiever. As the chief minister of Punjab, he used to be up early in the morning to reach the site where a project was in progress. When the CM could make it to the site, relevant officials had to be there. Thus, the projects would get completed within the stipulated period.

Similarly, the credit for establishing a network of motorways in the country goes to Mian Nawaz Sharif. He started from the Lahore-Islamabad motorway many years ago, and there has been no looking back. The Lahore-Multan motorway is the latest undertaking that has reduced the journey by GT Road from about seven hours to three-and-a-half hours, not to mention the safety and comfort of passengers. As a politician, Nawaz Sharif considers it his duty to leave behind the landmarks of his achievement that will continue to benefit the nation for a long time.

It is worthy to talk about his initiative the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Our Chinese friends trusted Nawaz Sharif wholeheartedly and were ready to invest billions of dollars on his calling, considering their investment safe. The project once completed can benefit both countries beyond imagination. Cargo going to China through the Strait of Malacca has to travel 12,000km to reach western China whereas the same cargo from the Gwadar Port to the Khunjerab Pass (the southwestern border of China) will only travel 3,000km by the Karakoram Highway.

Nawaz Sharif gave top priority to setting up power plants in Pakistan under CPEC. It suited the Chinese as well since they wanted to set up industry in this country and needed energy.

The project considered as the game changer involves construction of highways, railways and energy pipelines from Khunjerab to the Gwadar Port in Balochistan. The term ‘game-changer’ was first used by Nawaz Sharif during the visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan in 2015. The visit provided a real fillip to the project.

The worth of CPEC projects in 2020 was $62 billion; in 2022 it rose to $65 billion. It’s China’s national policy to develop countries instead of giving billions of dollars in loans. It was so senseless when CPEC was put on hold during Imran Khan’s tenure as prime minister.

Imran did not possess the acumen to appreciate how CPEC would change the fate of this over-populated and under-developed country. Will Nawaz Sharif get a chance to realize the CPEC dream?

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Lahore. He can be reached at: pinecity@gmail.com