LAHORE - PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has ruled out possibility of delay or sabotage in the general elections, saying the masses are anxiously waiting for the polls to bring about a change and will not allow delay.

Addressing a seminar held in connection with the death anniversary of Khwaja Rafiq, a Muslim Leaguer and father of MNA Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Saturday, Nawaz Sharif warned that his party would resist tooth and nail any bid to defer the elections.

Lauding his party’s efforts for the appointment of an independent election commission, Nawaz Sharif expressed his full trust in this institution for free, fair and transparent elections. By virtue of the efforts of his party, the Constitution was amended to put in place an independent CEC and install an interim government within three days of the dissolution of the assemblies, he said and added there were no chances that the elections would be delayed, deferred or sabotaged.

In the context of fairness of the upcoming elections, the PML-N president asked Asif Ali Zardari to remain within the limits of his presidential role and avoid making it controversial. If Zardari tried to exceed the role assigned to his office constitutionally, he would make controversial not only his own position but also the elections, he warned.

Nawaz Sharif said in the elections 2008, all governors and district nazims were opposed to his party, but despite that they played their due role and put in the best efforts to set the system right. He said the dominant spirit behind the struggle for Pakistan was to run the country in a democratic manner and under the Constitution. But unfortunately both could not be achieved as many hindrances were placed in the way through repeated martial laws; “and a constitution could not be framed until we lost ‘Qauid-e-Azam’s Pakistan in 1971.” Those politicians who stood by democracy and rule of law were either sent to gallows or exiled. He questioned if democracy was wrong, why Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah adopted it to achieve a separate homeland. “It is because of the fact that the Quaid believed in democracy and knew that no wrong way can be pursued to meet a noble goal,” he said. Recalling the time when he was sent to jail during the Musharraf era, Nawaz Sharif said he and his family accepted jail, but never bowed down to the dictator.

He said Pakistan was achieved through a political struggle and only through political means it could be run. Sharif said a state was meaningless without politics and excluding politics from the state was taking the soul from the body. He said to give Pakistan a respectable place in the world, change of government through ballot was the best way.

MNA Khwaja Muhammad Asif, MNA Saad Rafiq, PML-N Sindh President Ghous Ali Shah, JI General Secretary Liaquat Baloch, former SCBA Presidnet Asma Jahangir and senior journalist Hamid Mir also spoke, while former Balochistan Chief Minister Akhtar Mengal delivered a telephonic address to a big gathering at Alhamra.

MPA Khawaja Salam Rafiq read out three resolutions which were approved by the participants. The first one sought atmosphere conducive to elections in Balochistan; early recovery of the missing persons and end to target killings and kidnapping for ransom in that province, besides providing a chance to Baloch leaders to participate in the elections. The other resolution demanded the chief election commissioner ensure holding of in-time and transparent elections. The third one endorsed survey of voters and delimitation of constituencies in Karachi, following the direction of the Supreme Court to the Election Commission.

Akhtar Mengal, in his address, depicted a dismal picture of the Balochistan situation and said it was not different from what was in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). He gave a wakeup call that if no prompt remedial measures were pursued, anything could happen.

He said dictatorship inflicted deep wounds on the Baloch people, but the present democratic government did not try to improve the situation. Today Balochistan had turned into a graveyard, but no one was taking stock of the situation. Mengal said apologies could not heal the wounds of the Baloch, but the need was to reach out to them and hear what they wanted.

Khwaja Asif expressed his reservations over newcomers in the PML-N who had been close to Pervez Musharraf. He said a discomfort among the party workers was found on this issue as they felt neglected after the entry of Musharraf’s supporters into the party.