The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) held a brainstorming session on Saturday on how it could defeat Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in upcoming parliamentary elections from Rawalpindi, sources said.
The party considered a strategy in its concluding meeting about survey reports of its strength in three divisions of Punjab.
During the meeting, the names of Chaudhry Muhammad Riaz and Raja Javed Ikhlas were suggested as prospective candidates for contesting the polls from Rawalpindi against the = premier, sources said.
PML-N Punjab General Secretary Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, however, refused to comment on the subject.
For the last one week, the PML-N leadership was engaged in poring over reports of surveys that were carried out in the Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Lahore divisions to ascertain how it could secure a sweeping victory in the province, they said.
The reports provided lists of new comers and highlighted the performance of lawmakers and the party leadership.
In the concluding meeting, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was keen to see the premier defeated at any cost and in this regard, the senior leadership sat for seven hours to devise different strategies, sources said. The party’s central and provincial leadership was present in the meeting along with PML-N’s seasoned politicians.
In the 2008 elections, Prime Minister Ashraf secured 80,247 votes, PML-N’s Muhammad Riaz got 56,381 votes and PML-Q’s Raja Qasim Javed Ikhlas bagged 69,690 votes. Raja Qasim and his father, Raja Javed Ikhlas, have recently joined the PML-N.
The report preferred newcomer Qasim Javed Ikhlas instead of die-hard PML-N loyalist Muhammad Riaz, sources said. The report stated that Ikhlas along with the strong panel of Iftikhar Warsi and Shaukat Bhatti might defeat the premier.
Leader of Opposition in NA Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan too supported Ikhlas and urged Nawaz Sharif to award him a ticket for NA 51 but the PML-N chief has sought more comparative reports on the two candidates, sources said.
Faisalabad and Lahore
The report from Faisalabad division was ‘pathetic’, sources said. The two districts of this division, Chinot and Jhang, did not respond to the party’s visiting team. The rivalry between Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and MNA Abid Sher Ali has damaged the party’s vote bank in Faisalabad city, sources added.
Meanwhile, the report on PML-N strength in Lahore division was termed satisfactory in the survey report.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.