ISLAMABAD - Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was Tuesday elected unopposed president of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz as no other candidate landed in the arena to challenge him.

He turned emotional when party Quaid Nawaz Sharif embraced him, as the announcement of his election was made at the Convention Centre.

The venue, packed to its capacity by PML-N leaders and members of Central General Council, echoed with slogans in support of Nawaz and Shehbaz.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Raja Zafarul Haq, ministers, members of party executive committee as well as a large number of party workers attended the meeting.

Addressing the highly charged gathering, Shehbaz Sharif said that it was a matter of great honour that after being elected acting party president by the Central Working Committee of PML-N earlier, he has now been formally elected party president by the General Council.

But, he said it was the most difficult time in his political career as he had never thought of stepping into the shoes of his elder brother, who trained him in politics. He said he would continue to seek guidance from him.

Breaking all bounds in praising his brother, Shehbaz said he believed Nawaz to be the only Pakistani politician who could rightly be termed as the real political heir of [founder of Pakistan] Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. “We are lucky to have been blessed with a leader like Nawaz Sharif,” he said.

Enumerating the achievements of the ousted prime minister, the newly elected PML-N president said that Nawaz made Pakistan’s defence “invincible” by transforming it into an atomic power despite the international pressure and he had rejected $5 billion aid from the US for not going for the nuclear tests.

He further said that history would remember Nawaz for eliminating terrorism through the sacrifices of armed forces, completion of mega development projects and almost bringing down loadshedding to a naught.

Shehbaz said he got the chance to serve the people because of his elder brother. “My political upbringing by Nawaz Sharif is an asset of my life. I assure you that under the guidance of the [party] Quaid I will do my best to serve the people and the party.”

He said that today was not the day to give and receive congratulations as all this [change of caps] was being done under compulsion.

“The world knows that injustice has been done with our leader and he has been made a target of injustice,” he said in a veiled reference to Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court and the corruption trial he is facing in the accountability probe.

Shehbaz said that no one could erase the name of Nawaz Sharif from the hearts of people of Pakistan, and he believes that former prime minister would get justice one day.

The CM thanked party workers and leaders for reposing confidence in him and he pledged that they would continue to work hard to transform Pakistan into a truly social welfare state as envisaged by party Quaid Nawaz Sharif.

Seeking pledge for support

Shehbaz sought a pledge from the party works to make untiring efforts for the continuity of democratic system, as he said they could bring revolution into the lives of people only by strengthening the democratic institutions in the country.

“Today, there is a bigger challenge before us and we have to overcome all those impediments, with our practical deeds, that could arise in the way of political process. We have to play our role to ensure continuity of the development process. We have to ensure it that destination of the political process should result in shape of free, fare and impartial elections in the country.”



PTI bashing

Shehbaz availed the opportunity to criticise their arch rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which rules north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“Whenever development of other provinces is discussed, then the pitiable situation in KPK saddens us. A great treachery and fraud has been made with the people of the province in the name of change. That is why every person in KPK is forced to narrate the couplet:

Rukh-e-Roshan Ka Roshan Aik Pehlu Bhi Nahin Nikla

Jisay Hum Chand Samajhy Thay Wo Jugnu Bhi Nahin Nikla”

“We are of the considered opinion that whatever the situation may be and how many political jugglers are united, both [Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali] Zardari and [PTI chief Imran Khan] Niazi are not better than us,” he said, apparently referring to PML-N’s defeat at the hands of opposition parties in Monday’s election in Senate for the top slots.


Praise for minorities

The new PML-N president said the marvellous role played by non-Muslim brethren in the establishment and development of Pakistan needs no explanation.

“We are fully proud of the role of religious minorities played in the development of the country. It is sanguine that minority communities are wholly contributing in the process of national reconstruction and this unbeatable support will always be continued,” he said.



Shehbaz crowned PML-N chief