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LAHORE: A day after assuming command of the PML-N as its ‘interim’ president, Shahbaz Sharif took a pledge from the party’s MPAs from Punjab to ensure victory of the candidates backed by it in the Senate polls.

During his maiden meeting with the PML-N provincial legislators after getting elevated to the post here on Wednesday, Shahbaz told them to follow the party strategy for getting elected all of its candidates on different seats from Punjab.

The Senate polls are being held on March 3 while polling on one Senate seat (that was vacated by PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi) will be held on Thursday (today) at the Punjab Assembly.

As the apex court had declared null and void all the decisions taken by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s since his disqualification in July last, the PML-N candidates are contesting the Senate election as independents.

N-backed Dr Asad Ahraf, a former MPA and brother of slain diehard worker Javed Ashraf, is contesting on the seat vacated by Nehal Hashmi. PTI’s Dr Zarka Taimur is his opponent in the contest.

The meeting also discussed the general election.

The MPAs congratulated Shahbaz Sharif on becoming the party head and passed a unanimous resolution in his favour, terming his appointment the ‘best choice’ by the party Quaid Nawaz Sharif.

They also paid tributes to Nawaz Sharif for reposing confidence in the leadership of Shahbaz Sharif.

The resolution said Shahbaz would continue serving the people in a more effective manner after getting elevated to the top party post. It said Shahbaz Sharif would now more vigorously pursue the projects in education, health, transport and energy sectors.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan said that during the meeting Senate and general elections were discussed. He said there had been no forward bloc in the PML-N.

To a question about defections in the party, Mr Ahmad said Mian Tariq quit the PML-N over not getting an assurance of the ticket in the next election.

He said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was transgressing its powers and that former LDA chief Ahad Cheema’s arrest at the inquiry stage was not a legal act.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2018