LODHRAN  -  “You have proved that decisions are not made by the finger of an umpire but the thumbs of voters,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif told the people of Lodhran yesterday, expressing his gratitude for their voting the ruling party candidate in recent by-election.

“Allah has broken the arrogance of PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf], I am extremely thankful to people of Lodhran on my own behalf and that of Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz and Maryam Nawaz on this great success,” he said in his first address here after the by-election in NA-154.

In the upcoming general elections “each constituency will become Lodhran”, he said, expressing his confidence in victory of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). “You cannot imagine how happy I am that you people reposed trust in us,” he told the roaring crowd, adding that he came there to personally congratulate the people of the area.

“The people of Lodhran have restored the credibility of vote, refusing those who did nothing in the five years other than telling lies,” said the disqualified prime minister. “Imran [Khan] says he will learn a lesson from the loss in Lodhran. No, he will not learn a lesson, the people will teach him one,” he added.

The people have to make a huge decision in this year’s general elections also, Nawaz said. “Whatever has been happening in this country for 70 years has to change. We have to protect the sanctity of the vote.”

He asked the people to promise him that they would support him in this mission and would not ever let their elected prime minister to be scandalised and humiliated again.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Federal Minister Abdul Rehman Kanjoo and MNA Syed Pir Iqbal Shah also addressed the PML-N workers convention, which was also attended by Hamza Shehbaz and Maryam Nawaz.

Nawaz Sharif said that he has been serving people since 1985 and Shehbaz Sharif was also serving them for so many years. Best roads were being constructed, and hospitals and educational institutes have been built during the PML-N government. They not only made electricity available but also cut its cost, he said. Expenses of tube wells have also been reduced to half of their previous level.

Praising his brother Shehbaz Sharif, he said the chief minister did a great service by completing such projects in 20 months as would normally take years to complete. Health cards have been issued to people by Punjab government which enable them to avail the modern health facilities, he added.

The PML-N president said that his party’s government brought peace to Karachi, even though it was primarily the responsibility of Sindh government of PPP.

If brought to power again, the party would make the people get justice at their doorstep and launch assistance programs for farmers, he held. He promised provision of gas, jobs and houses to all the people of Lodhran.

Addressing the convention, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that PML-N has broken the ‘ATM of Imran Khan’, a reference to Jehangir Tareen whose son lost the by-election. He said that people of Lodhran refused the “bribe of 5,000 rupees to each voter” offered by the PTI candidate and decided to vote for the PML-N.

Shehbaz said that if the farmers were getting fertilisers on subsidised rate for the last three years, it was because Nawaz Sharif decided to do so. Subsidy of billions of rupee was also given on tube wells, for which easy loans were also provided, he added.

He said several development projects were running in Lodhran, and roads worth 85 billion rupee have been built in the area in the last four years.

The chief minister announced constructing an underpass in Patan Wala, on the request of Minister Abdul Rehman Kanjoo. He also announced another bypass project for Duniapur.