A HANDOUT photo shows Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz waving to party workers in Wazirabad on Monday.
A HANDOUT photo shows Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz waving to party workers in Wazirabad on Monday.

GUJRAT/LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz has said her party expresses sympathy with the PTI old guard who, despite having been steadfast with Prime Minister Imran Khan for 22 years, could not get party tickets for the Senate elections because these loyal workers can neither afford the expenditure of Mr Khan’s 300-kanal Banigala palace nor arrange a plane ride for him.

Addressing a rally organised by the PML-N for party’s candidate Talat Manzoor Cheema for the by-election in PP-51 Wazirabad on Monday evening, she said Imran Khan had given the Senate tickets to billionaires by ignoring the party loyalists because the MPAs belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were slipping away from the hands of the prime minister.

“Mr Khan is not like Nawaz Sharif who allotted the Senate tickets to workers and party loyalists because these workers like Pervaiz Rasheed, Saira Afzal Tarrar and others have striven for the party cause and served the country as well,” said Ms Nawaz.

She said her father Nawaz Sharif had given the party ticket to the widow of ex-MPA Shaukat Manzoor Cheema because her husband had been a party loyalist and served the people of Wazirabad.

Says she will not leave country even if government removes her name from ECL

She asked the PML-N workers to beware of any attempt to steal votes on the polling day. Ms Nawaz warned the police and administration of Wazirabad and Daska to act and serve as per law and the Constitution instead of serving the nefarious designs of any ruler.

“I want to make it clear to the police and administration that Imran Khan has only come into power for once but now the people of Punjab will never let him into the power as the future Punjab government belongs to Nawaz Sharif and ‘selectors’ have also withdrawn their support for Imran Khan,” the PML-N leader said.

She said there was no room for turncoats in the future politics of Pakistan which was proved in the recent elections in Gilgit-Baltistan where seven PML-N lawmakers had switched sides but lost the elections just because she had asked people during the election campaign not to cast votes for these turncoats.

Ms Nawaz asked the people of Wazirabad to join her in the long march of the Pakistan Democratic Movement towards Islamabad on March 26.

Earlier, talking to reporters at her Jatti Umara residence in Lahore before leaving for Wazirabad, Maryam Nawaz said she would not leave the country now even if the government removed her name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

Responding to a question about the government considering removing her name from the ECL and letting her go abroad as “she applied to accompany former prime minister Nawaz Sharif when he left for the UK for medical treatment” and lessen its political burden, she said: “Yes, I did apply for it once. Even now, my surgery is pending, which cannot be performed here in Pakistan. I know what is going on. But, I shall neither apply nor accept removal now; I will live and die here.”

Talking about Imran Khan’s performance, she said: “I read in the paper in the morning that he has warned bureaucrats against slackness in performance. Since then I have been wondering who is going to check and warn the ‘non-performer-in-chief’ in the country. Here is a man warning people on performance who has not performed for the last 30 months.”

About fielding of former PM Yousuf Raza Gilani as joint PDM candidate for the Senate from Islamabad against the background of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif agreeing to give no-confidence move a chance for keeping the alliance intact, she said: “Credit for keeping the PDM together goes to the people of Pakistan. They were the first to start reacting against government policies because they were the first to suffer. The PDM, in fact, was late in realising the extent of impact and reaction of the common man and rushed to follow and lead them. “Secondly, the people also started reacting against turncoats. The Gilgit-Baltistan polls proved how people have kept political parties and alliances together.”

Talking about the military’s denial of backdoor contacts, Ms Nawaz said: “I had answered the question the day before yesterday, but let me clarify again. I do not comment on heresay. I always claim and comment on things that are in my personal knowledge.”

On the chances of the government’s success in its attemps to bring Nawaz Sharif back from London, she was laconic: “They have not been able to handle Maryam. If they want to add Nawaz Sharif to their list, let them try.”

About her party’s prospects in the coming by-elections, particularly against the backdrop of rigging allegations in the previous ones, Ms Nawaz said things were different now. “Earlier elections were held when one-page theory was thriving. Now it is wilting. The ‘worried selectors’ are now putting difficult questions and wondering if they bet on the right horse. So the PML-N will sweep all elections.”

Putting civil servants on warning, she said the overzealous ones would be made answerable.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2021

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