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Will Gladly Sit In Opposition Benches: Shehbaz

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. Photo: Collected

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. Photo: Collected

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday that his party will “gladly sit in the opposition benches” if independent candidates were able to form a government. The remarks come days after PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said his party was firmly against reaching out to either the PML-N or PPP for a possible alliance following PTI-backed candidates coming out on top in the February 8 polls.

“We don’t feel comfortable with both of them. There will be no talks with anyone to make a government or to make a government together with them. It is better to sit in the opposition than to make a government [with them], but we think we have the majority,” he said while speaking to DawnNews on ‘Doosra Rukh’ show.

Speaking at a press conference in Lahore, Shehbaz said that the PML-N had emerged as the “biggest political party” after the February 8 polls.

Acknowledging that independent candidates had garnered more votes, he said, “If you count independent candidates, then obviously their number is greater. You cannot dispute the facts. But in political parties, the PML-N is number one, followed by the PPP and so on and so forth.”

He further said that since the results of the polls had been released, it was now time to move onto to the “next phase”.

“If independent candidates, who call themselves PTI sponsored or non-PTI sponsored, if they can form a government then go ahead. The president will not give them an invitation,” he said.

“If independent candidates, who call themselves PTI sponsored, […] if they can show a majority, then we will gladly sit in opposition benches and play our constitutional role,” he said also.

“But if they cannot, then other political parties have the right to form a government,” he said. “That is the legal and democratic way to do things.”

“We need to move forward like this and finalise the upcoming phase,” he said.

“All political factions need to put their differences aside and join hands to help tackle the challenges, of which Pakistan has several,” he added.

Commenting on allegations of rigging by political parties, he asked: “In which elections have there not been rigging allegations?”

Shehbaz said that on election night, on the basis of a mere 10-12 per cent of results, there was a “one-sided” declaration that independents were winning and parties were losing, which was “inappropriate”.

“On one hand there are allegations of rigging [but] then independents are winning and we are losing. This is contradictory,” he said.

He noted that when PTI came to power in 2018, his party did not hold long marches, protest the results or call for civil disobedience. Rather, they worked dutifully as the opposition for the betterment of Pakistan, he said.

He further commented that despite political differences, the opposition was more than willing to meet with then-prime minister Imran Khan on several issues, including on Kashmir and Covid-19, but alleged that Imran “made every effort to avoid meeting”.

He further noted that his government was the one to “save democracy in Pakistan”.

When asked about the possibility of a new deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said: “Let there be no doubt about it, given the point where our economy is at the moment, we will have to go for another IMF package and without delay, whether [it is] a coalition or some other arrangement.”

During his media talk, Shehbaz was also asked about party supremo and older brother Nawaz Sharif’s prospects of becoming premier.

“I still stand by my words that Nawaz Sharif will become prime minister for the fourth time,” Shehbaz said as he recalled the string of achievements during the elder Sharifs’ tenure.

He further stated that during the tenure of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, he made utmost efforts to decrease corruption.

In a response to questions regarding inducting “turncoats” into the PML-N, Shehbaz said PTI hurled abuses at his party during its election campaign. “Despite that, Nawaz Sharif said that PTI-backed independents should be given their constitutional right to form a government if they want to.

“But if people want to join the PML-N out of their own will, what is the problem in that?” he asked.

DAWN

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