In a major development, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Friday said they had started making preparations for welcoming former premier Nawaz Sharif who would land back in the country soon.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Rana Sana – the PML-N provincial head – said, “We have begun preparations for welcoming Nawaz from today.”
The interior minister, flanked by PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari, also challenged PTI Chairman Imran Khan to dissolve the Punjab Assembly. “We have decided to fight and prepare for the elections,” he said, adding that the “PML-N had taken decisions and would meet later in the day to implement them.
“You didn’t hold rally in Islamabad and returned from Rawalpindi,” he remarked in a jibe at Imran who, some say, is to be afraid of entering the federal capital because of fearing Rana Sana.
He claimed that he was privy to information which suggested Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was not in favour of dissolving the assembly.
“If the PTI is claiming it is not dissolving assemblies due to obstacles from our side, then let me make it clear that there are no obstacles apart from the fact that we are not in favour of the move.”
Rana Sana said the PML-N supremo’s return would decide the results of the election in Punjab and predicted that the PTI would face defeat. “We are democratic people and are in favour of letting assemblies complete their tenure. But we are not afraid of PTI’s harmless threats.”
He told reporters that the PML-N had divided the nine divisions of Punjab into three with committees formed to meet party leaders and nominate two candidates in every constituency within two weeks.
“The committees will consist of senior PML N parliamentarians. They will meet the sitting MPAs and candidates interested in contesting the elections. They will visit every constituency and finalise two candidates from each constituency within two weeks.”
According to Rana Sana, the committees will then forward their recommendations after which the party would make a decision.
He said committees would also be formed at a union council level for Nawaz’s return. “PML-N workers, under the union council name and banner, will reach Lahore to welcome Nawaz Sharif.
“This welcome will also decide the fate of the election. When the election is announced, Mian Nawaz Sharif will return back to lead the party in the [Punjab] elections.”
He asserted that general elections would take place in October 2023. “But if one assembly or both are dissolved, the provincial elections will take place within 90 days”.
The PML-N and the PPP were on the same page when it came to elections in Punjab, he said. “We will fight like allies but the main contest is with the PTI.”