Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party started its campaign after he was suspected of receiving help from the country’s strong military, making him the front-runner in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif’s primary competitor, remains in jail because candidates from his party will run as independents with new electoral insignia after the country’s highest court forbade them from using the cricket bat logo.
Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has begun its campaign, while Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has stated that rallies are not permitted by the authorities.
Nawaz Sharif returned from his self-imposed exile in London late last year. He has promised to restructure the country’s $350 billion economy, which suffers high inflation, an unstable currency, and limited foreign exchange reserves despite avoiding a debt default thanks to an IMF bailout.
Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, kicked off the party’s campaign during a rally in Okara, Punjab province, saying, “The more you vote for us, the more you will see your household expenses going down.”
Nawaz Sharif did not attend the event and has been mainly out of the public glare. He was last deposed in 2017 and has seen multiple corruption accusations against him dismissed by the courts.
Major participants, such as late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), have already began campaigning, but in a more subdued manner than in previous elections.
According to a Gallup Pakistan poll conducted in December, Imran Khan still leads Nawaz Sharif by five points in terms of approval ratings.
The elections, initially scheduled for November, were postponed to allow for the redrawing of seats following a fresh census, according to the country’s poll agency.
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