Face off with PTI: Stakes high in PML-N intraparty elections

At least 2,200 general council members will elect party’s national office-bearers

Sardar Sikander October 18, 2016
At least 2,200 general council members will elect party’s national office-bearers. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The stakes are high this time as the ruling PML-N goes for internal polls today (Tuesday) ahead of an impending showdown with its political nemesis – the PTI.

Exceptions apart, intra-party elections are generally a ceremonial exercise, staged to match the sweet will of political czars just to fulfill the requirements laid down by the ECP.

Although the PML-N’s scheduled intraparty polls do not appear to be something out of the ordinary, the timeline, however, matters a lot. PTI has rolled up its sleeves to take on the federal government in general, and PM Nawaz Sharif in particular, on November 2, promising to bring all activity in the federal capital to a grinding halt.

Insiders in the PML-N believe the gravity of the situation prompted the ruling party to hold intra-party elections.

“This is an activity better left for ‘lean days’,” commented a party bigwig involved in the intra-party elections. “Not to be done when you are in the eye of the storm,” the party stalwart, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Intra-party elections in PML-N were last held in 2011. The process would later be applied to lower echelons in the next phase, but the schedule for this exercise has not yet been finalised.

The party insider maintained: “Who will grab the party chief’s slot, secretary-general and other posts at the national level is pretty much known to everyone. Who will be there to represent us at the grass-root level is crucial”

For many, winners at the top-level at the Centre and at provincial levels are obvious. The real ‘game’ will be making a power-play at lower levels, where candidates backed by powerful N-Leaguers would have to be accommodated.

“The share any lobby gets in the party polls depends on the magnitude of influence it wields within the party,” the party insider asserted.

There are indications that PM Nawaz, in his capacity as the PML-N president, has ‘specially’ tasked Amir Muqam, the premier’s adviser, to supervise the intra-party polls in K-P to pave the way for electing ‘strong’ workers capable of mobilising public support and sabotaging PTI’s plan to march on to Islamabad. Muqam, however, denied this assertion.

“Intraparty polls and statement of accounts are the preliminary electoral requirements for allotment of electoral symbols. This is why we have to carry out this exercise in letter and spirit.”

When Amir Muqam was reminded that intraparty polls were being held too close to PTI’s planned protest, the PM’s advisor said: “Anyone can make a mountain out of a molehill – the PTI and its protest prospects are not important enough to influence our political priorities. I think you are blowing this issue out of proportion.”

At least 2,200 members of the PML-N’s General Council members are scheduled to elect national office-bearers today (Tuesday, October 18).

Prominent among those vying to get their candidates elected in the polls include Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Hanif Abbasi, Raja Zafarul Haq, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Chaudhry Tanvir, Anjum Aqeel Khan, Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan, Sabir Shah, Omar Ayub Khan, Asif Kirmani, Saad Rafique, Khawaja Asif, Rana Sanaullah, Raja Ishfaq Sarwar, Malik Ibrar, Raja Attiq Sarwar, Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, Sartaj Aziz, Amir Muqam, Sardar Yousaf, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Shaikh Ansar, Ahsan Iqbal, Chaudhry Sher Ali, Abid Sher Ali and Shaikh Aftab.

PM chairs meeting

The PM chaired a political meeting to consult PML-N’s central leadership about the upcoming polls, a PM House statement said on Monday.

Senior PML-N leadership was apprised about arrangements and details of the party’s convention, the statement added. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2016.


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