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LAHORE, July 18: PML-N President Nawaz Sharif has said that consultations should be held with all parties, both within and outside parliament, on the formation of a neutral interim set-up.

“The caretaker set-up should be formed after consultations with all stakeholders,” he told reporters after presiding over a meeting of the party’s Punjab district leaders here on Wednesday.

The 20th Amendment passed early this year provides for an independent Election Commission and a neutral interim set-up to oversee the next general elections. It binds the government to consult the opposition on both the issues.

Mr Sharif welcomed the appointment of Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim as Chief Election Commissioner and said institutions should be strengthened so that no-one could dare rig the polls.

He said the PML-N was ready to face any political party in the elections, adding that only time would decide who would give tough time to whom. “Everyone will know one’s standing in the next polls.”

About holding local bodies’ polls before the general elections, he said his party had always been in favour of local councils while the PPP never held these polls whenever it came to power. Former army dictator Pervez Musharraf had used the local bodies only to the benefit of a certain group.

Mr Sharif said strong political parties guaranteed stability of the democratic system and a vibrant and dynamic Muslim League would ensure a robust democracy and stable Pakistan.

He said the PML-N always worked for strengthening of institutions, independence of judiciary, supremacy of the Constitution and putting the national economy on road to rapid progress.

He alleged that efforts had been made to ‘unjustly’ keep the PML-N leaders away from the last polls and get their nomination papers rejected, but they faced the situation with utmost courage and got representation in three provinces.

Mr Sharif said the PML-N had rejected the politics of bargaining for power and advocated principles which had now become accepted realities, which included restoration of judiciary, rejection of NRO, establishment of an impartial Election Commission, setting up of neutral caretaker governments, evolving a transparent methodology for appointment of judges, elimination of dictatorial sections from the Constitution and galvanising the role of parliament in the interest of national honour and dignity.

The meeting was attended by Shahbaz Sharif, Khawaja Asif, Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and Jaffar Iqbal.