BAHAWALPUR: In his effort to one-up the beleaguered ruling party, chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) threw his weight behind two southern Punjab heavyweights – the prospective Bahawalpur province and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that Qureshi is an “old and respectable friend” and that he will be meeting him soon. Speaking to the media in Bahawalpur, Nawaz said that Qureshi is a “mature politician” and he will meet him when the later returns from Dubai.
Qureshi, on Tuesday, had said that he still maintains “excellent” relations with Nawaz.
Reinstatement Bahawalpur province
The PML-N chief said his party believed in democracy and that change in the country was only possible through constitutional empowerment. He demanded the reinstatement of Bahawalpur State with its original jurisdiction and powers.
Sharif said that new provinces will help resolve problems being faced by the people of Pakistan.
He said that the federal government had destroyed every institution and besieged the integrity of the country.
“The US government has apologised on a single call of the Indian government after scrutiny of the former president, but in our case the government has never dared to raise any objection with the United States,” he said.
Sharif remarked that the GDP growth rate was 8.5% before 1999, under his government, and would have increased if “dictatorship had not damaged the progress of the country.”
However, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Statistics, the GDP growth rate in 1999 was 3.91%. Other independent sources, such as the Asian Development Bank, put it lower – at 3.1% – down from 4.3% in 1998.
Sharif’s visit, however, was marred by reported mismanagement. Party workers complained against being mistreated and ignored by the party chief. The provincial minister for prisons, Malik Muhammad Iqbal Channa, did not attend a meeting of PML-N leaders and public representatives.
Women party workers also expressed concern over Sharif’s indifferent attitude.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2011.