Seven opp members met Usman Buzdar

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LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar held a meeting with seven MPAs belonging to the opposition PML-N and PPP, apparently to convey a message to the allies and disgruntled elements within the ruling party that his government is well ahead in the numbers game to pass the next budget to be presented on Monday (today).

PML-N dissident MPAs Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharqpuri, Chaudhry Ashraf Ali Ansari, Mohammad Ghias-ud-Din, Mohammad Faisal Khan Niazi, Azhar Abbas Chandia as well as PPP’s Rais Nabeel Ahmed and Ghazanfar Abbas called on the chief minister and “apprised him of the problems of their respective constituencies,” says an official announcement.

While the PML-N labelled all the five MPAs as turncoats and distanced itself from their affairs, the PPP opted to remain silent over the conduct of Rais Nabeel Ahmed and Ghazanfar Abbas.

The PML-N dissident MPAs had practically parted ways with their party by openly criticising the top leadership and found solace in meeting the chief minister at different critical moments, whenever the PTI needed to improve its numbers game.

In recent days, there were reports doing the rounds that the PML-Q, an ally of the PTI at Centre and in Punjab, was also not happy with the ruling party over some issues.

PML-N MPAs, particularly Mian Jalil Ahmed Sharqpuri and Chaudhry Ashraf Ali Ansari, had made their differences public when Nawaz Sharif took on establishment in the PDM’s Gujran­wala rally. In return, Mr Sharaqpuri was greeted by the PML-N MPAs by holding ‘lotas’ (a term used for turncoats) at a Punjab Assembly session.

Mr Ansari had once threatened to organise a parallel public meeting against PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz’s scheduled political rally in Gujranwala in October last year.

Reacting to the PML-N MPAs’ meeting with the chief minister, PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari said the PTI now seemed compelled to bank on turncoats and blackmailers to get the upcoming budget passed. “The PML-N has already announced that the party had nothing to do with these turncoats, while the PTI continues doing political point-scoring by inviting them and releasing their pictures with the chief minister,” Ms Bukhari said.

She said the PTI was also calling its estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen and his group members as blackmailers only a few days ago but now they had been invited to a pre-budget dinner hosted by the CM. “The PTI may happily retain all the turncoats and blackmailers,” she commented.

The PML-N spokesperson suggested to CM Buzdar to get the budget for 2021-22 fiscal passed with the same deceitful manner as legislation was done during the last three years in the Punjab Assembly. She chided the ruling party for keeping the Punjab Assembly standing committees inactive for the last three years. She said the opposition members had resigned from all standing committees and the resignations were lying with the speaker.

The PML-N spokesperson said her party would not become part of any standing committee until Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz was made chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.

On the other hand, PPP MPAs Rais Nabeel Ahmed and Ghazanfar Abbas who met the chief minister were looking for some incentives for their respective constituencies in south Punjab.

As both PML-N and PPP MPAs expressed their complete confidence in CM Usman Buzdar’s leadership and assured him of their full support, Mr Buzdar told them that their constituency-related issues would be resolved on a priority basis. “My doors are always open for you,” Mr Buzdar was quoted as saying in an official release.

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