LAHORE - Just a day before a key vote in Lahore, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took to recounting his government’s feats in an obvious effort to make a last-minute impression on the voters.

In an interaction with a select gathering of journalists yesterday, he mentioned his party’s achievements in the field of economy, energy, transport and infrastructure and their success in curbing terrorism.

The prime minister dilated upon the development projects of the government including China Pakistan Economic Corridor, power projects and Orange Line Metro Train.

The PM faced media when PML-N candidate and ex-Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq is contending against PTI’s Abdul Aleem Khan for NA-122 Lahore seat which has attained national value to entail deep political impact on both parties. This by-election is extremely important for both the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for two reasons: to lend credence to their respective stance on rigging in general elections and to show their popularity in the heart of Punjab.

The national assembly seat fell vacant after an election tribunal annulled Ayaz Sadiq’s win in general elections over electoral irregularities. And, it is one of the four constituencies on which the PTI had been demanding investigation to judge the authenticity of its claims of widespread rigging.

Prime Minister Nawaz also motioned the Kissan Package of Rs343billion that was announced last month to provide help to rice and cotton growers who failed to get due price of the commodities due to wider slump in global market.

He grilled PTI and its chairman Imran Khan who approached the Election Commission contending the Package amounts to influencing voters in the upcoming local government election in Punjab.

The commission then stayed implementation on the parts of the Package which related to immediate delivery of Rs5,000 per acre relief to the holders of land up to 12.5 acres, subsidy on the price of fertilisers and pesticides.

Without naming Imran Khan, the PM charged him for impeding implementation of the package at a time when farmers were in dire need of money around the Rabi crops. This amounts to kicking in their stomach, he remarked.

Showing confidence in winning next general elections in 2018 on the basis of performance, the prime minister told the media persons that PML-N government will construct Dasu dam in its next term that along with Bhasha will contribute 9000MW electricity to the system.

Flanked by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Governor Rafiq Rajwana, the Premier said their intentions are clear to serve the public and initiate projects in their interest which are basis for winning the elections even for 10 times.

The prime minister said the government had adopted the policy of saving public money in these projects which never happened in the past. He claimed Rs110billion have been saved only in three energy projects which were being developed at half the price Nepra had set. Metros, he said, are providing cheap and comfortable travelling to masses. Under completion Orange Train, he said, will cater to the journey of 350 people daily.

To a question on developing political consensus on the national issues, the PM counted CPEC project, Zarbe Azb, Karachi operation and NAP wherein political parties were taken on board and their reservations were address.

If consensus needed in future, he would do it again, he said. However he added, one party (PTI) never took to that path and preferred dharna and politics of protest.

He said he formed Judicial Commission on the demand of PTI running a great risk to his government. Had the Commission proved rigging in the 2013 elections, he would have immediately stepped down from the office, he maintained. But PTI remained unmoved despite rejection of the rigging allegations, he added.

The PM further said Fazalur Rahman of JUI-F wanted the PML-N to form a coalition in Khyber PK after the elections but he respected mandate of PTI and allowed it to set up coalition with JI as “we wanted end to the politics of manipulation of the past for which we were still paying the price”.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on his recent address at the UN that he looked eye to eye on Kashmir issue and wanted the world forum to play role to get it resolved since implementation of resolutions on the issue, was a matter of its own respect.

He said he also wanted India to hold composite dialogue with Pakistan to sort out Kashmir as per the aspirations of Kashmiri people. For peace with India, he gave a four-point roadmap. On ties with Afghanistan, he said, they started warmly with Ashraf Ghani government and in that course Pakistan played a vital role in bringing Taliban to talk table. Respecting wishes of the Afghan government, he said, talks process was kept ‘overt.’

After first round, around the second round of talk, suddenly the news of Mullah Umar’s death was broken “which was totally unnecessary and I don’t know who did it and for what purpose”. He said Pakistan was again active to put dialogue process between Afghan government and the Taliban on track.