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LAHORE/SIALKOT: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said the government will not tolerate any delay in the upcoming general elections and will expose those pressurising the parliamentarians to change their loyalties.

While talking to Dawn on Saturday, PM Abbasi said: “Some people claim that they have received phone calls and are being asked to change their loyalties or party affiliations. Therefore, I have asked the parliamentary party to let me know if they get any such calls again so as to expose these people [callers].”

Also read: ECP chides PM for saying ‘aliens’ will hold 2018 polls

The statement came after as many as 30 parliamentarians from various constituencies of Punjab parted ways with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in recent weeks. Most of them joined opposition parties while some lawmakers, headed by MNA Khusro Bakhtiar, formed their own group to struggle for the establishment of southern Punjab province.

“Some will leave the party and some new ones will join. The PML-N will have good candidates on all seats,” the prime minister responded to a question about the party’s strategy to keep its electables united.

Asked if the khalai makhlooq or aliens — which have often been blamed by the PML-N leadership for the party crisis — were behind the ouster of former premier Nawaz Sharif, PM Abbasi said: “These are metaphors which are often used in politics.”

Says ruling party won’t tolerate delay in polls, asks institutions to work within constitutional limits

About the possibility of street protests in case Mr Sharif is convicted by the accountability court, the premier said the party supporters would lodge their protest by voting for the PML-N in the general elections.

“Our protest will be registered at the polling stations in the shape of votes,” he said, adding that the people would vote due to party’s performance as it had delivered.

Earlier this week, the prime minister had said general elections would be conducted by the aliens and not the caretaker government, drawing a strong reaction from the Election Commission of Pakistan that termed it against the mandate vested under Article 218 of the Constitution.

Commenting on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan’s statement that the polls could be delayed for 30 to 45 days, PM Abbasi said the ruling party would not tolerate any delay as the “Constitution specifies a 60-day period for holding the general elections. Let’s see who defies it”.

‘PML-N respects judiciary’

Meanwhile, addressing a public meeting at the Pasrur Cadet College after laying the foundation stone for the reconstruction and dualisation of 25.6-kilometre-long Sialkot-Pasrur Road, the prime minister said it was not the job of courts to run the government.

He asked all national institutions to do their work within their constitutional limits for strengthening Pakistan.

He paid tribute to the military personnel and the natives of Chawinda-Pasrur-Sialkot who defended the motherland in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.

Federal Minister for Inf­or­mation and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and former federal ministers Khawaja Asif, Zahid Hamid, MNAs and MPAs were also present.

Later, the prime minister laid the foundation stone of 73km-long Narowal-Narang Mandi-Lahore Motorway link road connecting the Narowal areas with the Sialkot-Lahore Motorway. Briefing the prime minister about the project, National Highway Autho­rity officials said Rs16 billion would be spent on the road. It would be completed in a stipulated period of 18 months, they added.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2018