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FAISALABAD: Though the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is struggling hard to accord an ‘unforgettable’ welcome to its ‘quaid’ and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, upon their arrival in the country, Abid Sher Ali and Rana Sanaullah groups still don’t appear to be interested in shunning their differences at this crucial time for the party.

On Thursday, an advertisement appearing in a section of media on behalf of the group led by ex-law minister Rana Sanaullah, informs the public that from where the party processions will leave for Lahore today (Friday).

It reads that Talal Chaudhry (contesting for NA-102) will lead the procession from Jaranwala city, Ali Gohar (NA-103) from Okara Road, Shahbaz Babar (NA-104), Mian Mohammad Farooq (NA-105), Rana Sanaullah (NA-106) and Mian Abdul Mannan (NA-109) will depart from Canal Express.

Similarly, Haji Akram Ansari (NA-107) and Rana Mohammad Afzal (NA-110) will lead processions from Kamalpur interchange, the advertisement reads, carrying the pictures of almost all candidates of Rana Sanaullah group. However, the pictures of Abid Sher Ali group’s candidates, including Rana Mohammad Afzal and Tahir Jameel, are missing.

The advertisement do not mention the departure plan for PML-N followers residing in NA-101, as the party has yet not awarded ticket to anyone for the constituency. However, there are reports that the PML-N is supporting Asim Nazir, younger brother of district council chairman Zahid Nazir.

According to local sources, some containers were dispatched to Kamalpur interchange to stop PML-N processions.

Mudassar, a PML-N worker, told Dawn though it was need of the hour that the party leaders at all tiers must shun their mutual differences and join hands to defeat the “hidden hands” trying to sabotage their leaders’ welcome, the ground reality was different. He, however, vowed that he and other workers would reach Lahore at any cost.

“Though there is rain forecast for Lahore on Friday, the workers will remain outside the airport to have a glimpse of their leaders and to assure them of their support to strengthen the democracy,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif had been trying hard to convince the rival groups to shun their differences and strengthen the party’s grip on the district, but to no avail.

In the past, former Faisalabad mayor Mr Sher Ali, father of Abid Sher Ali, used to address the party rallies organised by different candidates in the district and was a favourite with the audience as they would like his satirical attacks, laced with jokes, on the PML-N rivals. However, this time he is being missed in the party campaign.

A PML-N leader, contesting for a National Assembly constituency, seeking anonymity, said: “We are nothing without the backing of the party and these days the party needs our support.”

He conceded that local leaders had failed to properly mobilise the party workers because of their mutual differences.

“If we failed to bring the workers out for Nawaz Sharif, then one should not expect an easy victory in the coming elections,” he added.

“Our rival party is exploiting the accountability court verdict against Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz and we have to counter their move to remain politically alive,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018