In election-charged Pakistan, Mahathir makes an ‘appearance’

PM-designate Shehbaz Sharif says he will seek advise from Malaysia’s Mahathir and Turkey’s Erdogan. (Shehbaz Sharif Twitter pic)

PETALING JAYA: The leader of a conservative political party alligned to former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has pledged to take Pakistan ahead of its arch rival India, saying he would emulate the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Shehbaz Sharif, the elder brother of Nawaz who leads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was quoted by Urdu-language news channel Express News as saying that he would visit Mahathir as well as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to learn from them and “make Pakistan a great nation”.

“When I talk about lifting Pakistan at par with Turkey and Malaysia, it means that these brotherly countries have achieved a high level of development.

“I will learn from Brother Mahathir Mohamad and Brother Erdogan and apply their secrets of development to Pakistan,” Shehbaz told an election rally yesterday in Sargodha, Punjab, where he served as the chief minister.

Shehbaz has been named as the prime minister-designate if his party wins the July 25 general election.

But he is not the first Pakistani politician to publicly express admiration for the Malaysian leader.

Following Pakatan Harapan’s electoral victory in May, former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, who leads Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), praised Mahathir’s election slogan to fight corruption.

“Corruption of Malaysian PM Najib Razak was the major reason Mahathir came out of a 15-year retirement to win elections despite attempts by Najib government to manipulate the same.
“Congratulations to Mahathir and the people of Malaysia,” Imran, whose party is contesting against Sharif’s party, posted on Twitter last May.