Karachi (AFP) – The younger brother of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif launched his party’s election campaign Tuesday with vows to deliver massive infrastructure projects to boost the nation’s economy.
Pakistan will hold a general election on July 25 pitting the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) against its main rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan.
The polls will bring to a head political tensions that have been mounting since former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court on corruption charges last July and later barred from politics for life.
Shahbaz Sharif, who succeeded his brother Nawaz as head of the PML-N, held marathon meetings and rallies on Monday and Tuesday, and promised to solve the country’s problems by forging consensus with other parties if elected.
“The country is facing big challenges and we will solve it with consensus, if we are given the chance,” Shahbaz told reporters, adding that “one party can’t solve it alone.”
Later addressing a rally in Karachi, he promised to improve the infrastructure of Pakistan’s biggest city to international standards.
“If you elect me, I will change your fate,” Shahbaz promised the rally.
Despite Nawaz Sharif’s ouster, the PML-N party says it has invested in improving Pakistan’s rickety infrastructure and attracted billions of dollars in Chinese investment. It has denied allegations of graft against its leadership made by opponents including Khan.
Shahbaz Sharif, a former chief minister of Punjab, is seeking to become prime minister in what would be only the second-ever democratic transfer of power in the South Asian country.
Nawaz Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history — roughly half of it under military rule — to be removed before completing a full term.
Pakistan completed its first ever democratic transfer of power following elections in 2013, when the government headed by the Pakistan People’s Party handed over to the PML-N, following a landslide victory.
Khan has already kicked off his election campaign by staging a major rally on Sunday and promising sweeping changes in the country if his party wins.