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Nawaz wants Shehbaz to probe Gujranwala Cantt board defeat

GUJRAT: PML-N’s supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, taking strong exception to his party’s defeat in Gujranwala division’s cantonment boards elections, has asked its president Shehbaz Sharif to conduct a probe into the matter.

He was speaking to party officials, lawmakers and former ticket-holders belonging to the Gujranwala division at a party workers’ convention held in Islamabad at the farmhouse of MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry on Monday.

Party sources said the convention of Gujranwala region was to be held in Model Town, Lahore, but the venue was changed late on Sunday night as the party chief Shehbaz Sharif had to reach Islamabad from Karachi to attend the parliament’s session on Monday.

The PML-N suffered a humiliating defeat in two out of three cantonment boards of Gujranwala division — Gujranwala and Kharian Cantts — where out of 10 wards the party could win only two, while it lost in both wards of Kharian Cantt.

Seeks transparency in next general election

“I always consider Gujranwala as my home town like Lahore and want to know how the party lost in the cantonment board elections in the region. I need a detailed report from Shehbaz Sharif about who selected the candidates and what were the reasons behind the defeat of the party aspirants in the region,” Nawaz Sharif was quoted as saying in his address to the convention participants.

Emphasising the need for strengthening the party’s organisational structure at the union council level, he wondered why the PML-N was not organised at the grassroots level despite getting millions of votes, when the other parties with only a few seats in the parliament and having small vote banks were so organised (at the UC level).

He said it was the time the party should be organised at the grassroots level for the preparation for the next general elections, which he demanded should be held in a free, fair and transparent manner and whoever won the trust of the people of Pakistan should have the right to form the next government.

Indirectly referring to Imran Khan’s speeches before becoming prime minister, he said those who would say before coming into power that if the rupee depreciated against dollar, rate of electricity and petroleum products increased then the prime minister must have been corrupt and those who talked of preferring suicide to going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had yet not committed suicide.

He lamented that the wrong policies of the present rulers had brought utter disgrace to the green passport, and resulted in sky rocketing prices of the flour, sugar and medicines, but the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had only been chasing the PML-N leaders in the name of accountability.

PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz and Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz attended the convention virtually from Lahore, whereas party president Shehbaz Sharif, secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, Punjab president Rana Sanaullah, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Khwaja Asif and Ameer Muqam were present at the convention.

Surprisingly, none of the party’s Gujranawala region’s officials, including district presidents, general secretaries, lawmakers and ticket holders etc, was allowed to speak at the convention, that was only addressed by the senior leadership.

Some of participants told Dawn that at least one or two officials of the party’s district chapters should have been asked to share their points of view regarding the local affairs with the party senior leadership.

A party official from Mandi Bahauddin district said that without letting the local officials speak the party could not be strengthened at the grassroots level.

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