5 reasons why you shouldn’t vote for PML-N this election
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) came to power after a landslide victory in the 2013 elections and promised to deliver on multiple fronts. Some of the major challenges that the party had identified in its 2013 manifesto included Economic Revival, Energy Security (continuous availability and affordability), Democratic Governance, Media Art and Culture, and Militancy and Terrorism etc.
Five years on, it has failed miserably to deliver on many of them. So here are five reasons you shouldn’t vote for PML-N in the July election.
- Poor human rights track record
This PML-N government would be remembered for two of the most draconian laws in Pakistan’s history: Cyber Crime Law and the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan. At the same time, the party did little when it came to the cause of the missing persons or the farmers fighting for their rights in Okara. Hundreds of common Pakistanis were abducted illegally, allegedly by the state agencies and the government remained mum. In fact its first interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan repeatedly used the ‘blasphemy card’ against the missing bloggers back in January 2017. The narrative he built was the primary cause of Mashal Khan’s lynching. Social media activists kept disappearing and many of them were harassed by the Federal Investigation Agency. Rights violations, which have always been a norm in the country, did not improve at all. As of May 2017, the number of enforced disappearances in Pakistan stood 1219, and the highest number of missing persons, 728, were abducted in 2016 alone. PML-N was in charge.
- Failure to develop consensus on national issues
PML-N government failed to negotiate a National Finance Commission (NFC) Award which was due in 2015. It alienated some of its major political allies, including People’s Party and Awami National Party. Both of them had stood firm with the government against the 2014 joint onslaught by the ‘political cousins’ Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri but it lost its way somewhere in the middle and by 2017, Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister, was reportedly begging to have PPP chairperson Asif Ali Zardari on call, but was denied. The FATA merger did take place on the last day of the government’s tenure but extremely haphazardly and it lacked the political consensus required. To its credit, PML-N stuck with its Baloch nationalist allies NP and Pk-MAP, who paid back with equal loyalty. As of now, PML-N largely stands isolated in the political arena. So much so that even if it succeeds in bagging the most number of seats in a future hung parliament, it might still fail to form a government, having fallen out of the good books of all other major political parties.
- Giving up on party loyalists, even ministers
During the last five years, PML-N forced Mushahidullah Khan to resign from the cabinet once, got Pervaiz Rashid to resign from his ministry of information, removed at least 2 top bureaucrats over the Dawn Leaks issue and made Law Minister Zahid Hamid to resign over the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwat. Each time, the party caved in to pressure from undemocratic forces. In September 2017, party’s various social media activists were booked by FIA. There was not even a single tweet from Maryam Nawaz, the most widely followed PML-N leader on Twitter. Just a few days back, DG ISPR showed a diagram, accusing various PML-N social media activists of being involved in ‘anti-state propaganda’. No leader from the party uttered a word. Not a single tweet. Nothing.
- Loans, circular debt, forex reserves: whither the claims?
One of the first things the party did after coming to power was clearing the circular debt. It stands somewhere around some 1 trillion rupees at the moment. According to IMF, the country’s external debt will have risen to over 100 billion dollars by the end of this month. As of May 25, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves stood at 10,033 million dollars, after having touched 18,000 million dollars just two years ago. PML-N’s financial wizard used to take a lot of pride in having brought the dollar price to Rs 100. Hope he knows in some London hospital that he’s being treated at for his heart disease for well over six months now that the price per US dollar has reached back to 115 Pakistani rupees. Why would we trust them again for economy?
- The energy crisis is not over, no matter what Wadde Mian sb tells you
It’s true that the energy crisis is not as acute as it was 5 years ago when the PML-N had taken over the country. Yet this is not what Nawaz Sharif had promised us during the election campaign back in April and May of 2013. He had categorically stated that the energy crisis will be over by the end of this tenure. Not taking into account Shehbaz Sharif’s ridiculous claims of doing away with the problem within six months of taking the reins. Only this week, 2 people were injured in a Quetta protest that turned violent over 12 HOURS of load shedding. The situation in Punjab might have been better but it is far from perfect here too. And the price! We must not forget that PML-N had not only promised continuous availability but also affordability of the energy. The unit price today is more than double what we had five years ago and the taxes do the rest for ruining a middle-class household’s budget.
And these are just some of the issues. The lack of focus on making new water reservoirs, failure to deal with religious extremism, poor performance at governance, poor democratic credentials, the iron hand with which media freedom has been curbed during the last five years and most importantly the kind of indifference towards human rights the party leadership has shown during its entire tenure cannot be forgiven. The party has delivered on some of the fronts though. Those we’ll discuss in a later article.