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SAHIWAL: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday advised his political opponents to respect their elders as he paid a short visit to Chichawatni tehsil where he announced development projects worth Rs600m for a constituency said to be a stronghold of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

He was visiting the constituency on the invitation of MNA Mian Tufail Jutt, who had defeated a PTI candidate in a by-election last year. The PM opened his address to an audience of nearly 20,000 people by criticising the politics of confrontation adopted by his rivals. In a thinly veiled reference to the PTI, he said politics was a gentleman’s game which required a culture of respect, “but our opponents lack high moral values”.

He added that his rivals fabricated bogus allegations every other day but they meant nothing to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Rs600m uplift projects announced for constituency considered PTI stronghold

Earlier, PM Sharif arrived in a chopper at a public school and went to inaugurate a model cattle market which, he announced, would benefit 80,000 farmers and bring Rs1.2bn investment to the area.

The PM then headed to the Rai Ali Nawaz Stadium to address a public gathering. The night before, a heavy dust storm had blown away the tent set up for his address and several banners announcing the prime minister’s visit, but the local administration had worked fast to set them right back up before the PM’s arrival at around noon.

Addressing the gathering, PM Sharif announced a Rs100m grant to provide electricity to NA-162, a rural constituency, during the current financial year, adding that “there will be no loadshedding after 2018”.

Addressing farmers in the audience, the prime minister said his government had given them a lot of relief by slashing the prices of urea, DAP and electricity.

Most of the audience comprised farmers from the rural areas of NA-162 and NA-163. Local lawmakers had held several corner meetings ahead of the PM’s visit to mobilise them because they had feared that the farmers would be busy with the wheat harvest.

The prime minister said he had been visiting Chichawatni since he was a child. “I love the people of Chichawatni and I know they love me too.”

However, for many, the prime minister’s visit and the announcement of millions of rupees worth of development projects appeared a political gesture for the benefit of PTI supporters in NA-162.

Although the PTI lost a seat to the PML-N in a by-election after the Supreme Court removed Rai Hassan Nawaz for concealing his assets, it is generally believed the powerful Rai family will manage to keep their vote bank, in the urban and rural areas of NA-162, intact.

Interestingly enough, PTI ticket holders had won 55 per cent of the municipal committee chairman’s seats in Chichawatni in the local government elections. The PTI won 12 seats, the PML-N 8, and four independent candidates had won. Rana Ajmal of the PTI had become the municipal committee chairman even though he was up against a PML-N candidate nominated by MNA Mian Tufail Jutt.

Sharif leaves for China today

According to APP, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will proceed to China on Friday to attend the ‘Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’ being held in Beijing on May 14 and 15.

The prime minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation and chief ministers of the four provinces, said a press release issued by the PM House on Thursday.

Prime Minister Sharif, who will speak at the concluding session, will also visit Hangzhou and Hong Kong where he will interact with business leaders and attend investment conferences.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2017