LAHORE, June 6: Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said on Sunday that all 193 MNAs of his party were eligible to become prime minister and some 50 of them could be serious contenders.

Talking to reporters at his residence, he said if he had any difference of opinion with the prime minister on some issues, it should not be seen in a negative perspective. This, he said, was not the question of personal enmity.

Chaudhry Shujaat said that during a 150-minute one-to-one meeting with the prime minister he had discussed all matters with Mr Jamali. He said he had differences of opinion with the prime minister on certain party matters.

But, he added, there was nothing unusual in it because on a couple of occasions he had expressed his difference of opinion even with President Pervez Musharraf and the latter had appreciated his approach.

Asked why differences between him and the prime minister could not be settled despite repeated efforts, Chaudhry Shujaat said new factors cropped up as the time passed by.

In response to a question, the ruling party chief said that Sindh was a 'disturbed' province and if the situation was allowed to persist, economy of the entire country would be affected. He said it was for this reason that he was calling for urgent steps to set the situation right.

Chaudhry Shujaat said that in view of the sensitivity of the situation there, everyone (we and others) should be prepared for a sacrifice. he PML president reiterated that his idea of a consensus government was still relevant and all political forces should give it a serious thought. The modalities for such a set-up, he said, could be discussed mutually.

He regretted that PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had rejected the proposal out of hand and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had misunderstood it. He told a questioner that the ruling party was in contact with all political forces in Sindh.

In response to a question, he said a decision about the president's uniform would be taken in accordance with the Constitution. Chaudhry Shujaat said he had directed the authorities to prepare both long- and short term-budgets and the results of the latter should be visible before the 2007 general election.

He said President Musharraf would announce a package for farmers on June 10 which would be revolutionary in nature. He said the budget would also offer some relief to the common man.

About the appointment of the opposition leader in the Senate, the PML president said anybody enjoying majority's support would get the slot. For the time being, he said, the ARD and the MMA were making claims about their support level.

He said cooperation with the MMA was possible in the future as there was no final word in politics. Responding to a question, he said no party or province should make the NFC a matter of prestige.

Chaudhry Shujaat also presided over a meeting of PML women legislators from Punjab. Speaking on the occasion, he said those visiting foreign countries should represent their country in a proper manner and should not bring a bad name to their homeland by presenting false reports about violation of women's rights.

He said Pakistan had the highest representation of women in assemblies and they should justify their presence by making better contributions to the proceedings. Chaudhry Shujaat assured women legislators that the government would take strict action against those who violated women's rights. Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi also spoke on the occasion.



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