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LAHORE: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif is delighted that his party has remained united in the face of alleged propaganda that the PML-N will be eliminated once the caretaker set-up takes over.

“Not a single PML-N leader has quit the party since the caretaker set-up was installed 10 days ago. There was propaganda that a good number of party leaders will leave the party once the caretaker government is established. The party is united today and only a few opportunists had left,” Mr Sharif said while addressing a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board here on Sunday.

He said those who left the party from south Punjab were opportunists who had never been part of the PML-N. “They had formed a front and raised a slogan (for a separate province) but abandoned it to join another party (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf) where they were feeling uneasy.”

PML-N workers oppose awarding of tickets to ‘influential’ members

Others (in the south) did not follow suit because of the unprecedented development that the PML-N undertook in the region, Sharif senior claimed.

Citing reasons that he believed his party remained intact despite all odds, the PML-N supreme leader said: “The party leaders did not quit because of massive development work the PML-N government carried out, especially in Punjab. There has been tremendous development carried out in Punjab during the last 10 years. Hospitals, colleges and universities have been established even in rural areas of the province.”

Political pundits as well as the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid had predicted that a number of PML-N leaders will jump ship as soon as the caretaker set-up took over from the government.

Lauding his younger brother for serving Punjab, the elder Sharif said: “Shahbaz Sharif worked day and night and delivered in the province. You will reap its fruit. Allegations have been levelled against you (Shahbaz) in the Metro bus and train projects. All these charges have been proved wrong. Where else is the Metro bus in the country except Punjab and Islamabad?” he questioned.

Shahbaz, who was presiding over the parliamentary board meeting, sought party ticket from the board. He said he was appearing before the board to respect democratic traditions, and talked about his performance as chief minister of Punjab. He told Nawaz Sharif that he would accept whatever decision the PML-N quaid made for him regarding his candidature.

Meanwhile, some PML-N workers opposed awarding of tickets to ‘influential’ members, requesting the party president to consider the diehard workers as well. A veteran worker asked Mr Sharif not to give away tickets to contractor and former MNA Malik Riaz from Shahdara as he had failed to deliver and also ignored the workers.

It was the sixth meeting of the PML-N’s parliamentary board that conducted interviews of candidates mostly from Punjab. The PML-N says it will announce its candidates once it completes interviews of candidates across the country.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2018