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MURREE: Shahbaz Sharif will be the next prime minister in the event the party wins the elections though the final decision will still be made with consensus in the party after election results are announced, former prime minister and PML-N candidate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Tuesday.

Talking to Dawn, the former premier ruled out a split in the party at the top level and said the leaders are agreed on acting on the Constitution in letter and spirit.

He claimed the case against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and retired Capt Safdar was conducted in an unprecedented and discriminatory manner.

When asked about Chaudhry Nisar, Mr Abbasi said the former interior minister was not given a party ticket because he had not applied for one. He said everyone in the party, including Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, had applied for tickets.

All conflicts should be discussed within the party and not in the media or public, like Chaudhry Nisar did, he said.In reply to a question about forming a coalition government after the election, he said that the coalition with the PPP in 2008 could not last a month, that the temperament of leaders matters for the successful functioning of a coalition government and that if it comes to it, the possibility will be discussed after the elections.

The former premier said he has launched projects worth billions in his constituency and has allocated a budget for providing electricity, constructing roads and that a state-of-the-art hospital is under construction near the Murree bus stand which will include a trauma centre, maternity facilities and an out-patient department.

All hurdles in the way of establishing a modern university in the area have been removed and the funds transferred, and that work on the project will start soon, he said.

Mr Abbasi said he has a close relationship with the people in his constituency but it was difficult to visit the area frequently during his time in office as prime minister due to security reasons.

All parties must be given a level playing field, which has not been done, he said, adding that PML-N is contesting the elections on the basis of its performance.

“We have added 11,000 MW of electricity, developed infrastructure and eliminated terrorism in the country,” Mr Abbasi said.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2018