LAHORE: Seniors of the PML-N are meeting in the federal capital on Thursday (today) to make, at least, a “preliminary” selection of party candidates in Punjab for the general elections due by July-end.

The party leaders considered expert on rural politics, including the chief minister’s son Hamza Shahbaz, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, federal minister Awais Leghari and others, will be attending the huddle to be presided over by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, an official said.

“The participants will discuss the best combinations available for each National and Punjab Assembly constituency based on their own experience as well as reports already submitted by a private audit firm and two intelligence agencies in the control of civilians,” he said.

When asked how the selection would be made when ticket aspirants are required to submit their applications till May 25, the official said this would be a preliminary exercise for accommodating various biradris (clans) and whether one should run for a National or Punjab Assembly seat.

Asked if the party would be able to find candidates for each seat, particularly in the background of recent statement of the former prime minister, the official claimed that they had more than one option in each constituency and that there would be at least 2,000 aspirants for PML-N tickets.

Replying to a query about why Mr Sharif was leading his party towards controversies and in the process losing its popularity among the masses, he said the thrice-elected prime minister believed the country needed seven to eight per cent economic growth rate for its survival and this ratio could not be achieved until there’s “one government” in the country.

The PML-N supreme leader feared increased conflict among various communities if the country failed to achieve the desired growth rate, he added.

About desertions from the party, the official said Mr Sharif was determined to take his fight to its logical end even if he was left alone.

He claimed that the former prime minister had told a party huddle in Islamabad on May 11 that he would move the Supreme Judicial Council against National Accountability Bureau Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal in his personal capacity and not ask the party to do so on his behalf.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018