LAHORE – Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has rejected the names of caretaker CM nominated by the opposition saying that both had questionable professional life hence not expected to ensure transparent, fair and free election in the province.

Flanked by the members of his former cabinet, the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in response to a question revealed to a big gathering of media men that he would not take a moment to accept any nominees offered by the opposition if it was better than the ones he has nominated.

The CM found faults with opposition nominee, former bureaucrat Hafeez Akhtar Randhawa that he continued to stay in official residence after his retirement while the other, Justice (r) Zahid Hussain took oath under the PCO during Musharraf era and was faced contempt proceedings by the Supreme Court on this count. He said that they were not capable of ensuring transparent elections, adding that his nominees Justice (r) Amir A Raza Khan and Khwaja Zaheer. He said that they were known for unblemished character as processional, fair, impartial and capable of discharging responsibilities of job. The body language of the CM clearly suggested that the matter in Punjab would also be decided by the Election Commission in the long run.

Shahbaz, also PML-N Punjab President, sounded quite dissatisfied with the appointment of Justice (r) Zahid Qurban Alvi as Sindh caretaker CM terming him on as a close associate of the PPP. He said that they had also made him Chairman Zakat and the Flood Commission. He said Alvi was closely related to Sindh Police official Tippi, a right hand of President Zardari.

Shahhaz vehemently supported the participation of the nationalist parties of Balochistan in the process of caretaker set up saying that the nationalists already felt secluded and taking them on board was mandatory. Dispelling the impression on any deadlock in Punjab on the interim set up he said that transparent and free and elections with the right people was the need of the hour.

When a questioner invited his attention to the petition moved before the SC against his decision to regularise one lakh contractual appointees despite ban, he said under a policy the process to regularise them has been continuing over the last two years and they all had been picked up on merit through a committee. He said by regularization no additional burden had come to the national exchequer and added, he would apprised the Court about these facts.

When a question was put on the likelihood of give and take with the Prime Minister on the selection of caretaker PM and the Punjab CM, Shahbaz Sharif categorically ruled it out saying no question especially after being accused of being a ‘friendly opposition’.  To a question on arrival of former dictator Pervez Musharraf he said after what he has done with the nation he should face acute opposition in principle.

While highlighting main project of this era Sharif said that they were much progressive after Pervez Elahi. He said that Rs52billion were spent on Southern Punjab development while Rs 290billion during their respective tenure. Naming Metro Bus project, Laptop and Ujala schemes he said that transparency and merit were the hallmark of these projects which had been vindicated by Transparency International while inviting others to come up with proofs of corruption if there were any. He said that Punjab made huge progress despite short supply of energy by the Federal Government which, unlike other provinces, also did not pay Punjab any single penny over and above the NFC. He said that Punjab faced worst floods but President Zardari continued to spend holidays in Paris and London paying no concern to the plight of the affectees. He said that in Punjab Police department was an area still in need of improvement.

On Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, Shahbaz Sharif said it smacks another insincere and clever move of Zardari as Iranian offer for gas stood for five years but the Government accepted it when the tenure of the assemblies was few day away. He posed a question why not this offer was accepted the first day to stave off energy crisis which continued to hit the national economy throughout the five years. Shahbaz Sharif said apprehending defeat of his party in the next election, Zardari has put the next government between ‘devil and the deep sea’ through this agreement.

The Chief Minister also thanked the members of his former Cabinet and official for helping in the achieving the target. He also thanked PML-N President Nawaz Sharif for guiding him and chastising where he was wrong.