Standing firm despite the rude political setback in the Punjab, the coalition government Tuesday announced that it will complete its constitutional term ‘in the larger interest of the country’. “We came into power in the larger interest of the country. We knew that the PTI government had laid economic landmines for us but we took tough decisions to save the country,” said Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique while addressing a press conference in Lahore after attending an important meeting of the PDM alliance parties held in Model Town, Lahore to deliberate upon the country’s political and economic situation. Saad said Punjab by-polls was not a barometer to gauge popularity and added that his party had snatched five provincial assembly seats from the PTI in the by-polls. “Provincial governments also have a right to complete their terms by-poll is not a barometer of popularity and we snatched their [PTI’s] five seats which shows that our vote bank is intact,” he remarked. Saad termed PTI Chairman Imran Khan a “misguided and mischievous” man and said he always did politics with the support of ‘umpires’. “He wants chief justice, army chief and other [heads of institutions] of his own choice in a bid to exercise control over them,” he added. The ruling party leader said opposition leaders were put behind bars and subjected to victimization during the tenure of PTI-led government “but the judiciary was asleep at that time”. He said that the coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had decided in principle that the next general elections in the country will be held on time as the ally parties had refused to budge under the pressure of former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan, says a news report. The meeting was co-chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PDM chief Fazlur Rehman. Former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Maulana Shah Owais Noorani, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, MQM-Pakistan leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Ayaz Sadiq, Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Shahzain Bugti, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Mushahid Hussain Syed, Akram Durrani, Tariq Bashir Cheema, Ahad Cheema, Ayaz Sadiq, Salik Hussain, Mohsin Dawar, Aslam Bhootani, Fahad Hussain and other leaders were also present. The PML-N leaders briefed the participants on the number game in the Punjab Assembly, while consultations were held on the strategy regarding the re-election of the Leader of the House on July 22. According to the sources present in the meeting, PDM parties and government allies decided not to hold early elections in the country and it was decided that early elections will not be held under the pressure of Imran Khan but under the unanimous decision of the government alliance. Reports quoted insides as saying that it was also decided in the meeting that a new government narrative will be brought forward to break Imran Khan’s ‘anti-establishment’ narrative. It was also decided to make efforts to save the chief ministership in Punjab. Saad said the participants of the meeting also expressed reservations about the Supreme Court’s verdict on Article 63-A related to defection clause. “We believe that the verdict is against the spirit of the Constitution and we request the Supreme Court to take up our plea against the verdict.” Apparently referring to the PTI’s petition challenging amendments to the NAB laws in the apex court, the minister categorically stated that the ruling alliance will not tolerate interference in the legislative affairs of the parliament. “Legislation is our right and we will make no compromise on this… conspirator Imran is trying to make judiciary controversial. They target judiciary when it announces decision in line with the Constitution,” he added. He said the PML-N leadership has made sacrifices for democracy, adding that the party knows how to save its politics but it decided not to do so. “The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) requests to respect the decisions made by the Parliament and that it has its reservations about judicial interpretation of Article 63(A),” said Saad, adding that “legislation is the Parliament’s prerogative and it should not be interfered with.” The Supreme Court is hearing a case related to the recent changes in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) laws after PTI Chairman Imran Khan challenged the amendments. “We are applauding our win over five seats, while the person who won 15 seats is crying,” he added. The minister further said that the by-elections proved that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the establishment were neutral. The railway minister demanded that the verdict regarding the PTI’s foreign funding case, pending for years, should be announced soon. On the other hand, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani said Khan attacks the ECP and the judiciary and was constantly humiliating the institutions. “If he [Imran Khan] does not stop, the law will take its course,” said Durrani.