ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday asked ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) legislators to ensure their presence in parliament on the day of Senate elections next month.

Presiding over a meeting of the PML-N’s parliamentary party, the prime minister took a serious note of what he called “wheeling and dealing” on Senate seats and said this floodgate of corruption must be closed forthwith.

“Senate elections have become a matter of serious concern and everyone should think about Pakistan,” he added.

Requesting anonymity, a participant of the meeting later told Dawn that the prime minister observed that candidates of even those parties were in the run which did not have a single member in any of the provincial assemblies. “I don’t know how they will be elected without a vote in the electoral college,” he quoted the prime minister as saying.

PM asks party legislators to ensure their presence during Senate polls

Mr Abbasi urged the PML-N legislators to ensure their presence in parliament during the Senate polls on March 3. He also asked them to enhance their contact with the people in their respective constituencies as a 100-day countdown of the 2018 general election started.

More than 100 senior parliamentarians of the ruling party who attended the parliamentary committee meeting expressed full confidence in the leadership of the party president Nawaz Sharif and the stance he took after having been ousted by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017.

Since his removal from the office of prime minister, Mr Sharif has been holding a series of public meetings to seek support from the public against the decision of the apex court.

The decision of the parliamentary committee is believed to be a clear indication that the PML-N will stick to its policy of confrontation with the superior court judges or it may be intensified over the next few months till the general election in July 2018.

“The decisions of judges and their behaviour will be discussed in parliament,” disclosed a participant of the meeting.

Later, Prime Minister Abbasi and visiting Finance Minister of Azerbaijan Samir Sharifov discussed the issues relating to India-held Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh during a meeting and pledged continued mutual support on these disputes. The two sides also exchanged views on possible cooperation in the energy and agricultural sectors to enhance bilateral trade.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2018