ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Pakistan Peoples Party have decided to jointly contest the Punjab by-election which is scheduled on 20 seats of the provincial assembly and ministries allocation is also agreed.
The decision was taken in a meeting between Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and PPP-Parliamentarians head Asif Ali Zardari at the Bilawal House Tuesday. All the Pakistani leaders agreed to support each other in the by-polls being held on vacant seats in Punjab. PTI will also participate but details of its decision has not been disclosed sofar.
The polls are scheduled on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had won in 2018 general elections and its MPAs had later defected to the PMLN and faced disqualification.
It is to be noted that of the 20 seats, nine are in southern Punjab where the PPP, as an organisation and its vote bank are stronger as compared to central Punjab, and its support to the PMLN in a close contest can cost the PTI, as per the publicatuion.
The Election Commission of Pakistan last month said the by-elections on the 20 vacant seats would be held on July 17, Dawn newspaper reported.
Talking to the media, senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressed apprehension that the Punjab government would employ its resources to influence the by-polls.
The seats on which the by-polls will be held are: PP-7 Rawalpindi-II; PP-83 Khushab-II; PP-90 Bhakkar-II; PP-97 Faisalabad-I; PP-125 Jhang-II; PP-127 Jhang-IV, PP-140 Sheikhupura-VI; PP-158 Lahore-XV; PP-167, 168 and 170, Lahore-XXIV, XXIV and XXVI; PP-202 Sahiwal-VII; PP-217 Multan-VII; PP-224 Lodhran-I; PP-228 Lodhran-V; PP-237 Bahawalnagar-I; PP-272 and 273, Muzaffargarh-V, VI; PP-282 Layyah-III; and PP-288 Dera Ghazi Khan-IV, as per Dawn.
Hamza, Zardari meeting
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz on Tuesday called on Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari while during the meeting both showed consensus to contest Punjab by-elections jointly.
The meeting was held in Bilawal House Lahore, Provincial Minister Ata Tarar, Malik Muhammad Ahmed Ali, Khawaja Salman Rafique, Imran Goraya, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah, Sharjeel Memon, Dr Asim Hussain, Syed Ali Haider Gilani and Syed Hassan Murtaza were also present in the meeting.
Meanwhile, the former president congratulated Hamza Shahbaz on assuming the post of Chief Minister.
On the occasion, Hamza Shahbaz said the PPP is our ally and the discussion process with PPP will continue to further improve the working relationship.
“The coalition of PML-N and PPP is to serve the people. I consider politics as worship and I believe in collective decisions,” Hamza said.
The ECP had de-seated 25 PTI defectors for voting for Hamza last month thus leaving the incumbent CM vulnerable with a short of majority in the Punjab Assembly. The PTI and its ally party PML-Q have declared Hamza an “illegal CM” after losing majority in the House thus calling for a run-off election (of the chief minister).
Of the 25 five de-seated MPAs, five of them were on reserved seats and the ECP said allocation (of the five) would be made after the result of July 17 by-polls on 20 seats.
Mr Tarar said the PML-N was ready to give its tickets to defectors, but some of them were interested in contesting the polls independently. In the 2018 elections, some eight of the 20 de-seated PTI MPAs had been elected independently and joined the PTI.
PTI intra-party poll
Imran Khan has been re-elected unopposed as the PTI chairman on Wednesday as two other candidates for the party’s top slot had withdrawn in his favour.
It is pertinent to mention here that five days ahead of the deadline, given to it by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last year, the PTI fixed June 8 (today) for the intra-party election. The last date for the conduct of intra-party polls for the PTI was June 13, 2021, however, because of a request from the party, it had been given time till June 13, 2022.
Meanwhile, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar have also been re-elected as the vice-chairman and the secretary-general of the party, respectively.
Incumbent rulers will not do anything without US approval
Addressing the party workers and leaders at the PTI’s National Council Meeting after the Intra-party elections, Khan vehemently criticised the government and said the incumbent rulers would “not do anything without the approval of the United States”.
The PTI chairman said they will “not take a stand for the nation” as they have billions of dollars stored in foreign bank accounts, which they will protect at any cost.
“They are afraid that if America is disgruntled with them, then they will suffer the same fate as the Russian oligarchs,” the PTI chairman said, claiming that from 2008 to 2018, the United States carried out 400 drone attacks on Pakistan, a number that had been unprecedented.
Khan said the leaders of that era — ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — did not “utter a word in protest” when the drone attacks were taking place in Pakistan despite Islamabad being an ally of Washington.