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Sharifs present a united front at Lodhran rally

Updated February 18, 2018

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LODHRAN: Hamza Shahbaz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and newly elected MNA Iqbal Shah join hands and hold them aloft as Maryam Nawaz waves to the audience at a meeting here on Saturday.—Online
LODHRAN: Hamza Shahbaz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and newly elected MNA Iqbal Shah join hands and hold them aloft as Maryam Nawaz waves to the audience at a meeting here on Saturday.—Online

MULTAN: Seeking to put to rest speculation about a rift within the Sharif family and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), former prime minister Nawaz Sharif along with his daughter Maryam after a long time shared the stage of a party workers convention with his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and nephew Hamza Shahbaz in an unusual show of unity during their visit to Lodhran on Saturday.

The chief minister of Punjab was seated beside the PML-N chief in the middle of the stage, while Maryam Nawaz was sitting next to Iqbal Shah, the party leader who recently won the Lodhran by-polls, a bit far from the chair of Hamza Shahbaz.

The PML-N workers’ convention was organised just a few days after its candidate’s unexpected victory against the party’s arch-rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in the by-election on National Assembly seat NA-154 on the request of the PML-N chief.

Result of NA-154 by-election restored the sanctity of vote, says ousted prime minister

The visibly confident head of the PML-N in his address not only thanked the voters for their support to the party candidate in the by-polls but also repeatedly showered the chief minister with praise for his work in Punjab. “I called Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam to invite them to the convention. They were of the opinion that we should not hurry in holding it but I told them I couldn’t wait further and that delay would not benefit either,” said the former prime minister.

The party workers repeatedly chanted the slogan “Wazir-i-Azam Nawaz Sharif” as Mr Sharif told them that by voting for the ruling party they had bought him with their love.

In his speech, which followed that of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N chief said he had asked his daughter Maryam and nephew Hamza to again pay a visit to Lodhran so that they could extend their gratitude to the people.

The former prime minister, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year, said the result of Lodhran by-election proved the sanctity of vote. He said: “It’s not umpire’s finger but the thumbs of the masses that take decisions.”

“You cannot measure the happiness you people gave me. Your decision is being echoed not only in the country but across the world. I have no words to express my gratitude. You put your finger on the pulse while conveying the message ‘only this type of politics will work’,” he said, adding that the people of Lodhran rejected the politics of allegations and lies.

“They are saying that we will learn from defeat of Lodhran, but I tell them that now the people will teach you a lesson,” he said.

Mr Sharif said that he is serving the masses since 1985, while after him Shahbaz performed the same duty by constructing roads, educational and health institutions besides completing the energy projects. If the PML-N won the next election it would provide justice to the people at their doorstep, he vowed.

He said Shahbaz Sharif had a major role in ending electricity loadshedding, as he got completed the projects within 20 months. He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was zero, as the provincial government did nothing for the betterment the people.

He said that atmosphere for the PML-N was favourable and it would win the next election.

Later, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the people of Lodhran sank “the ATM of a leader who was the IG of liars”.

“The people of Lodhran gave their vote to Nawaz Sharif who had refused the US aid of $5 billion and made the country an atomic power,” he said.

The chief minister said that his government initiated a number of development projects across Punjab. He said that Lodhran-Khanewal Road was nearing completion at a cost of Rs24 billion. He also announced that Pattanwala underpass, Dunyapur bypass and Shahab Abu Tahir bridge would be constructed.

“I have invited all the PML-N leaders from Lodhran to Lahore next week and will accept each of their demand whatsoever it will be,” he announced.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018