ISLAMABAD: Despite strict directives from party president Shahbaz Sharif , over 20 elected PML-N members of the Punjab Assembly did not show up at a meeting held to ensure party loyalty and discuss future strategy regarding the bid at government formation in the province.
As the meeting had been called by Shahbaz, all the members elected from Punjab were told to ensure their presence in the gathering at the party’s Model Town secretariat.
A total of 129 candidates having PML-N ticket have won the election for the Punjab Assembly, but sources say only 106 showed up at the meeting. They also revealed that the majority of the absent winners excused themselves on the pretext of health issues and/or unavoidable engagement. However, their absence was not taken well by the party president. The PML-N is working to get the required numbers to form the Punjab government, for which it has been approaching the independent winners in the province.
These independents and the probable alliance options for the PML-N had asked to
first ensure that the party had a firm hold on all of its own 129 members who won the
election. That’s why this meeting was being considered by many as an exercise to exhibit that strength. The meeting, chaired by Shahbaz, was scheduled to start at 6:00 pm; however, it began over an hour late.
Addressing the meeting, he talked about the achievements of PML-N in Punjab and told the attendees that they should keep their spirits high and have confidence in the party and its leadership.
He said the real character of a person was tested not at the time of convenience but when one had to stand against the tide. He urged them to stay strong and rebuff the pressure to go against the party line and join any undemocratic alliance that would go against the spirit of the Constitution and democracy.
Shahbaz said the objective of the party is not just to rule but to serve the people and that should be the spirit. Those attending the meeting assured the PML-N president regarding their loyalty to the party and pledged their unconditional support in the testing times the party is going through. They expressed confidence in Shahbaz as the party leader and pledged to follow the party policy where and when needed.
Notable PML-N MPAs in the waiting who did not attend the meeting included Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khawaja Imran Nazir and Khawaja Salman Rafique – who held key ministries in the PML-N government.