- PM tells ministers to focus on completion of development projects to counter PTI’s popularity in Punjab
- Tells ministers to stop washing dirty linen in media, tasks Shehbaz to resolve intra-party disputes
Taking stock of his party’s performance in Punjab, especially in wake of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) rising popularity in the province, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who also heads the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on Saturday told his party ministers and leaders to pull their socks up and focus on completion of development projects to restore the party’s public image.
Chairing a meeting at his Raiwind residence ahead of his trip to the US, Prime Minister Sharif took serious notice of what he called was the ‘poor performance’ of the Punjab government and its failure to complete development projects in Lahore and Okara due to which the PML-N candidate Sardar Ayaz Sadiq narrowly escaped defeat in the NA-122 by-polls while the party’s candidate for the PP-147 by-poll, Mohsin Latif was booted out by the constituents in favour of PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqui.
In Okara’s NA-144 by-poll, the PML-N candidate Ali Arif Chaudhry suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of an independent candidate, Riazul Haq Juj.
A PML-N insider privy to the discussions of the meeting told Pakistan Today that Sharif had expressed concern over the high number of votes bagged by PTI’s Abdul Aleem Khan in NA-122 and directed his younger brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to find out and punish the party leaders who had not played their role in garnering support for Ayaz Sadiq.
According to the insider, Sharif put Punjab senior minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman on the mat for failing to secure enough votes for both PML-N candidates in NA-122 from his Arain clan, which constitutes almost 60 per cent population of the constituency.
Coming to his minister’s rescue, Shehbaz Sharif told the premier that Ayaz Sadiq and Mohsin Latif had earned the voters’ ire for not giving time to their constituency.
“Since it was poor performance of both candidates, it should not be viewed as people’s lack of trust in the PML-N government,” the Punjab chief minister stressed upon the PM, according to the source.
On the party’s failure in NA-144, PM Sharif said he was astonished that none of the federal or provincial ministers had bothered to campaign for the party’s candidate in Okara and only Punjab Irrigation Minister Mian Yawar Zaman made efforts in his personal capacity, according to the source.
“The premier also expressed anger over the deep differences within the party ranks and file and rebuked his party ministers for revealing their internal differences on the media. He directed Shehbaz Sharif to resolve the intra-party disputes at the earliest so that PTI could not benefit from them during the upcoming local bodies polls,” the source said.
“The PM told Shehbaz to mediate between Rana Sanaullah and Chaudhry Sher Ali groups in Faisalabad. He said that both groups may be allowed to contest the LG polls if their differences were irreconcilable,” said the source.
Some TV channels had reported that Sharif had tasked his daughter Maryam to help resolve differences between both groups in Faisalabad but the claim could not be verified from any quarter. PM’s Press Secretary Mohayuddin Wani refused to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, an official handout stated that the prime minister had emphasized equal development of rural and urban areas without any discrimination. Nawaz Sharif said the Punjab government should continue working on small, medium and long term development projects simultaneously for the benefit of the people, the statement said.
“The prime minister was apprised on the status of mega and small projects being executed in the entire province. These projects mainly relate to health, education, drinking water, roads and communication sectors,” the statement concluded.