PML-N leader Zaeem Qadri on Thursday became vocal about his differences with the party leadership and announced that he will contest the upcoming general election from Lahore's NA-133 seat as an independent candidate.
"I cannot polish Hamza Shahbaz's boots," Qadri said during a press conference in Lahore. He further announced that two of his aides — Syed Imran Ali Shah and Asif Raza Baig — would also contest the election independently from PP-166 and PP-167 constituencies, respectively.
"I have given my life and money [to PML-N], and spent time in jails for you," Qadri said.
Before the press conference, Qadri met senior PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique who reportedly tried to convince Qadri to rethink his decision of going against the party. However, the meeting evidently bore no fruit as soon after the meeting Qadri announced his grievances with the party leadership.
"Bring on your employees, boot polishers and masseurs; my election is against you Hamza Shahbaz," Qadri thundered.
Recounting his family's struggles for democracy and the PML-N, he warned: "Hear Hamza Shahbaz! Lahore is neither your, nor your father's property."
"You have ruled Punjab for 10 years, bring on the unit that you have made in Punjab comprising of your employees and contest the election [against me]."
Qadri, who has reportedly not been awarded the party's ticket, said it was not about the elections but that his patience had run out because of what has happened in the province during the past 10 years.
"People know that you were nowhere to be seen in the last 10 years," he said, addressing Hamza.
Qadri also claimed that one PML-N leader told him that he could not be given the ticket because he "does not have enough money to contest the elections".
Qadri has served as the provincial minister and an adviser to the chief minister, as well as Punjab government's spokesman. He has also served at important positions within the PML-N's party structure.
He was also at the forefront of negotiations with Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi when the latter had threatened that a number of lawmakers would resign from the party over Khatm-i-Nabuwwat declaration controversy last year.