PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Monday said people from all walks of life were struggling to survive due to the inflation caused by the government's policies, asking alleged "selectors" not to subject the country to its current ordeal by helping to bring the PTI into power again.
Addressing a rally in Wazirabad as part of the election campaign for PP-51, Maryam asked the crowd whether any of them had gotten a job from the 10 million jobs promised by the PTI government or a house from the 5m houses pledged by the government.
She said the government had accused her of playing the "Punjabi card" after she raised her voice for the province, but said she would continue to speak for Punjab as well as other provinces being "the daughter of Pakistan".
"But when it comes to snatching Punjab's bread and aata and rise in the price of Punjab's sugar, Maryam will stand with Punjabis with her heart and soul," she said.
Maryam, speaking in Urdu interspersed with Punjabi, said farmers, labourers, daily wage workers, traders and businessmen were all frustrated today and could not afford basic utilities and food items.
She called upon the "selectors" not to "make the mistake" of helping to bring the PTI into power again, saying: "I feel bad when people bad-mouth the selectors because after all, the institution is ours."
"The country has been worn out but my dear selectors, don't do this with Pakistan again," she said, referring to the PTI coming into power. "Do your own work that the Constitution has assigned to you, don't interfere with people's work."
Although things are broken, Maryam said, "Nawaz Sharif will come and everything will be fixed."
The PML-N leader alleged that electricity in the country was expensive because "those financing Imran Khan's expenses deliberately imported expensive LNG".
"The [government] took loans of Rs15,000 billion but did not lay a single brick," she said, alleging that the metro bus project started by the PTI government had also failed.
Maryam said the "actual reason" why Prime Minister Imran Khan had been pursuing an open ballot for next month's Senate elections was that his own MNAs and MPAs "are escaping from his grasp".
"I want to say to PTI's old-time workers, I have full sympathy for you but you can't get Senate tickets because you don't have billions of rupees to spend on Imran Khan," she added. "It is Imran Khan's compulsion, he has to give Senate tickets to those whose money he takes and eats."
She said because the government "can't steal votes like before or steal the Senate", efforts were being made to get a decision from the Supreme Court on the open ballot proposal "through excuses".
"Even selectors have said, 'We supported you a lot but now we cannot deal with this, handle your own affairs now,'" she added.
Maryam asked the people of Wazirabad not to vote for "lotas" (turncoats) in the by-elections, saying seven of the PML-N's winning candidates in the Gilgit-Baltistan election were threatened and "broken away".
"Those seven lotas have lost in GB's history," she said.
The PML-N leader asked the administration of Daska and Wazirabad to serve the people and the law instead of the premier.
"I say to Wazirabad police and administration [...] I know that you yourself are frustrated [but] the nation is looking at you; if you instead of serving the country and the people try to serve anyone else, try to steal the vote and make a lost person win, then remember, Imran Khan came once but now at least Punjab won't let him come [to power] again."
She said the next government in Pakistan and Punjab will be "of Nawaz Sharif".
Opposition 'politically confused': Faraz
Responding to the opposition, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said the people of Pakistan had rejected the PDM's agenda, particularly that of the PML-N, to protect "vested interests", Radio Pakistan reported.
In a statement, he said the opposition had become "sick-minded" due to being out of power, adding that the cancellation of public meetings by the PDM leadership after their failure to tender resignations en masse suggested that they were "politically confused".
"Prime Minister Imran Khan's war against [the] corrupt system and its beneficiaries will continue with full force," he was quoted as saying.
'PTI gave tickets to billionaires'
Earlier, while speaking to reporters at Jati Umra before her departure for Wazirabad, Maryam claimed that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had nominated individuals for the upcoming Senate elections who were "billionaires with no connection or service to the party", saying they had been given tickets to use their wealth for "buying votes" in the polls.
"You have given tickets to millionaires and billionaires who have no connection or service to the party, what does it mean then?" asked Maryam, adding the PTI wanted such individuals to buy votes through their resources and enter the Senate. "It is very important to block the path of such people."
She said members of the incumbent government "from every province have stood up" to protest the PTI's distribution of tickets for the Senate elections. She questioned whether Prime Minister Imran Khan could "not find one person in his 22 years of struggle" who had been beside him during that period and could have been nominated for the Senate.
The PML-N leader added that she hoped "good people and political people with a history of political struggle" would come to the upper house. She said she was "proud" of the PML-N and party supremo Nawaz Sharif for nominating ordinary workers of the party who "are not millionaires or multi-billionaires. They are normal workers belonging to the middle class with a history of political struggle."
"The PML-N has fulfilled the right of the nation for real representation and Mian [Nawaz Sharif] sahib has not given a ticket to any billionaire or expert in buying and selling [of votes]. This is the real change."
In a statement issued earlier, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb had also alleged that members of the PTI were in disagreement with the prime minister for "selling tickets". She said this "revolt" of PTI members had laid bare the premier's campaign for open balloting.
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Information and Local Bodies Syed Nasir Hussain Shah made similar comments while speaking in Karachi. He said when the PTI gave tickets to "parachuters" instead of "senior visionary workers, well-wishers and supporters" then differences would emerge.
He said there was a similar situation across the four provinces with senior members and lawmakers of the PTI expressing their grievances over the Senate nominations.
The PTI leadership in Islamabad had awarded a ticket to Abdul Qadir, a business tycoon affiliated with the construction industry, for contesting the Senate elections on a general seat from Balochistan. It soon had to withdraw the party ticket from him after strong opposition from the PTI provincial leadership and zonal heads.
The party high command decided to take back the ticket from Qadir and nominated Zahoor Agha for the election, Adviser to the Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill had confirmed on Saturday. The PTI's provincial spokesman for Balochistan, Asif Tareen, said the previous decision of the party had been taken in Islamabad without even consulting the Balochistan leadership of the party.
Regional PTI leaders had said the ticket had been awarded to a person who had nothing to do with the party. They had demanded an immediate withdrawal of the party ticket and an investigation to ascertain who had introduced Abdul Qadir to Prime Minister Imran and supported his name for a party ticket.
Maryam said she hoped the opposition's 10-party Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would remain intact even after "this government goes" and that it could devise a new charter to run the country. She also rubbished the notion that the PML-N and PDM needed or were engaged in backdoor talks, saying "only those who are in difficulty need backdoor talks."
She also told media that she had a health condition which required a surgery which could not be performed in Pakistan but despite that, she had no intention to request the government to remove her name from the Exit Control List. "I don't have to go anywhere from this country, my life and death are in this country," she said
While addressing the three institutions of administration, bureaucracy and police, Maryam reminded them that they were servants of the people and the country and the people would be "looking at and remember their faces" if they tried to help the PTI in the upcoming by-elections.
"You will have to seriously answer for this, so I hope you will not betray your job, oath and country."
She also lamented the treatment meted out to protesting federal employees in Islamabad and criticised the show-cause notices and warning letters sent to bureaucrats in Punjab over their performance.