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Eight PML-N MPAs announced their own party

10 April, 2018

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LAHORE: Eight PML-N lawmakers from southern Punjab abandoned the ruling party on Monday and announced their own party. Referring to these developments while speaking to the media in front of the accountability court, former PM said pre-poll rigging was underway ahead of the upcoming elections.

The lawmakers from southern districts announced the decision at a joint press conference.

These included Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Alam Dar Laleka, Basit Bukhari (MNA from Muzaffargarh), Tahir Bashir (MNA from Vehari), Saleemullah, Syed Asghar Ali Shah, Nasrullah Dareshak and Rana Qasim Noon (MNA from Multan). They said that the former interim premier Balakh Sher Mazari would lead the new political front called ‘Southern Punjab Province Front.

They said their decision to part ways with the PML-N was motivated by a single point agenda: to struggle for a separate province to improve living standards of the people of the region.

Khusro Bakhtiar told the media that another 15 MNAs and MPAs from the region had expressed their willingness to join the front ahead of the general elections.

Criticising the ruling N-League and Shahbaz Sharif’s policies in the region, he said the share of population living below the poverty line in the region had reached a startling 51 percent according to the government’s poor policies.

“A new province in the region will strengthen the federation,” he said, adding that the demand for a separate province was not on linguistic basis. “We want to save the future of our children and to ensure that funds meant for the region are spent in the region.”

Meanwhile, Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif directed party leaders and office-bearers to avoid commenting on the matter. In a statement issued on Monday, Sharif, who also holds the office of the PML-N president, said that all office-bearers of the party and government officials should avoid issuing statements on the matter until it had been discussed at party forums and a suitable strategy finalised.

Meanwhile, in her reaction to the development, State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb referred to the lawmakers as ‘compulsive turncoats’. She said the people of Pakistan would reject them in the next polls.

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry welcomed the development and said that it had proven that the PML-N’s narrative was not even popular in the party itself.

“Khusro Bakhtiyar’s announcement is a step towards the right direction,” Chaudhry said, “PML-N’s fate is no less different than that of the MQM’s. No one is satisfied with the performance of the Punjab chief minister.

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