LAHORE - The PML-N leadership on Sunday gave a serious jolt to Punjab Governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood who wants to project himself as a neutral Governor acceptable to all political parties.

The Governor had invited all Punjab Assembly members at a dinner at the Governor House on Sunday, but nobody from the PML-N side turned up to participate, reportedly on the instructions of party chief Mian Nawaz Sharif. 

Speaker Punjab Assembly, Rana Muhammad Iqbal attended the dinner but he is not supposed to represent any political party given the very nature of his office. He also chose not to speak on the occasion perhaps for political reasons.

Members of the Unification Bloc alongwith those of MMA also did not come.  Two PML-N lawmakers, Rana Arshad and Nasim Lodhi, reached the Governor House, but left immediately after they got the information that their party had decided not to be part of the gathering.

“I am disappointed to know that PML-N legislators have not been allowed to come to the Governor House”, observed Makhdoom while addressing the participants most of whom belonged to Southern Punjab.

The Governor, however, said that he would continue to maintain cordial relations with the PML-N leadership ignoring this bad gesture on their part.

Out of total 371 Assembly members, around 65 turned up on Makhdoom’s invitation. They belonged to the PPP and the PML-Q. The prominent among them included Raja Riaz, Zulfiqar Gondal, Shaukat Basra, Tanvir Kaira, Ch Zaheeruddin Ahmad and Samina Khawar Hayat.

The Governor in his speech expressed gratitude to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto for posing confidence in him.

He said he would not disappoint them, and would also pay them back for this favour. Mehmood made mention of these PPP leaders at least thrice in his speech which focused mostly on projecting his image of a neutral Governor, the one, who was not protocol conscious.

“I want the Governor to get stuck in traffic so that he gets first hand knowledge of the hardships of commuters due to traffic problems”, he observed, adding, that he had also stopped the security agencies from erecting barricades around his Model town residence. “I don’t want to aggravate the troubles of my neighbours for the sake of my security.  God will protect me”, he remarked.

Narrating his priorities in his new role as Governor, Makhdoon said he was going to play a key role in the formation of the caretaker set up and the holding of coming polls. 

“I would also facilitate the provincial government to maintain law and order, curb the menace of terrorism and conduct the elections in a transparent manner”, he told the gathering.

He believed that the office of Governor would play an assertive role during the caretaker government.

Without naming any political party but in an implicit reference to the PPP, Makhdoom said that position of one political party had improved in a big with his elevation as Punjab Governor. But at the same time he also said that he did not belong to any political party and his doors would remain open for workers of all political parties.

While thanking the PML-Q for its participation in the dinner, he also lauded the administrative and leadership qualities of Ch Pervaiz Elahi as former CM. The Governor said he would work for restoration of Bahawalpur province and creation of South Punjab province.

He said he would promote political reconciliation and try to evolve consensus on national issues. “To achieve this end, I have invited provincial heads of all political parties at the Governor House on Monday (today)”, he added.

While asserting that he would ensure good governance, merit and transparency in the working of provincial departments, the Governor said his actions would speak louder than words.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani called on  Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood and congratulated him on his elevation as Punjab Governor.