LAHORE :Pakistan Muslim League-N leader and adviser to Chief Minister Punjab Khawaja Ahmed Hassaan has said the people of NA-120 gave Pakistan its prime minister who served them and the country with exemplary leadership and turned the country around economically, socially and politically.
In an exclusive interview with The News, Khawaja Hassaan said it is important to understand that the NA-120 by-polls are to elect a representative for the National Assembly, whose prime function is policy legislation not municipal work. “Misguided campaign by the opposition on broadcast media with misrepresentative footage shows that they do not even understand the functions of different tiers of a democracy”, he added.
“One would need to be blind to be not able to see what Shahbaz Sharif and the PML-N has done for not just the people of Lahore but for the people of Punjab and maybe even for Pakistan. From transport infrastructure, to healthcare expansion and unprecedented milestones achieved in the power sector he has transformed the metropolis and the province”, said Khawaja Hassaan.
Khawaja Hassaan, who is also Punjab Institute of Cardiology Management Board chairman, said it is a misconception that the PML-N is only brick-and-mortar savvy and does not work in the health and education sector, “I mean look at Punjab Institute of Cardiology after recent interventions. It is one of the rare examples of cardiology hospitals all over the world that have emergencies with a capacity of more than 100 beds, and that too with the catheterisation capability, the Kidney and Liver Hospitals, expansion of Nishtar Hospital in Multan”, he said. The Punjab government’s school enrolment project has matched and sometimes overshot regional standards while so much has been done on curriculum updating, he explained. “Just because one can't see it like a bridge, an underpass or a bus service doesn’t mean it isn’t being done”, he said. “Maryam has been running a successful campaign for her mother and she has the qualities that make for a strong foundation of a political leader”, believed Khawaja Ahmed Hassaan. Senior party leaders, including Malik Pervez, myself, Zaeem Qadri and other leaders from Punjab have been helping her and she has been most respectful to all of us and has exhibited the capacity of a fast learner, he said.
Dispelling the notion of a rift within the PML-N top men over Maryam Nawaz leading the campaign, he said that as maybe the closest of party members to the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, he hasn’t been communicated anything nor has he felt any split prevailing over the issue. Explaining the scenario he said, “It is a political party; people can have different opinion, even within a family people can disagree over issues. But once the decision was reached with all on board there isn’t even an ounce of incongruity.”
Commenting on the symbolic significance this by-election has assumed post-Panama verdict, he expressed his concern regarding the narrative being built. “As politicians, we will need to be very careful regarding to what extent should one go to achieve one’s personal objective. Pitting one institution of the federation against the other and asking the people to vote for the judiciary which is an apolitical institution is a very dangerous approach. As politicians, we need to set ourselves a benchmark which guarantees the sanctity of the federation; win or lose, we should never stoop below that benchmark because by the end of the day we are as strong as our federation”, said Mr Hassaan.
Khawaja Ahmed Hassaan said that the PML-N had governed Punjab with little or no opposition until the October 2011 PTI public meeting in Lahore. “That actually in a way benefitted the PML-N, because the party got together and pulled up its socks to compete. That are the real fruits of democracy because the ultimate winner is the people as the PML-N launched more massive projects of public welfare after that”, he said. He said the PML-N has maintained a positive democratic approach where we allowed PTI’s mandate to form the government in KP and never once threatened a vote of no-confidence.
“Its not that we did not have the capacity to do so, but Pakistan deserves progressive and positive politics. Our opponents have resorted to all-out negativity instead of having any positive agenda of their own, which is why they don’t have much to show to people on their sheet”, he commented.