LAHORE: To fill the seat left by former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif after his disqualification by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, both Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have kicked started campaigns for the NA-120 by-election.
However, the ruling party is yet to develop a consensus over its candidate. At the same time, PML-N has already mobilised its leaders and workers, including provincial ministers and local government representatives. On the other hand, PTI-backed candidate Yasmin Rashid has initiated her door-to-door campaign in different areas of NA-120.
Contrary to the code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), provincial ministers Bilal Yasin, MPA Majid Zahoor, Metropolitan Corporation Lahore Mayor Colonel (retd) Mubashir Javed, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice chairmen are actively running election campaigns in NA-120.
Punjab Minister for Food Bilal Yasin and MPA Majid Zahoor, ruling party represemtatives from PP-139 and PP-140, respectively, increased their presence in their areas. These constituencies are part of NA-120 and both MPAs are holding corner meetings and public gatherings. They have also organised local government conventions as part of the PML-N electioneering campaign.
Speaking to a local government representatives’ convention on Mohni Road recently, Yasin asked that party workers effectively run the election campaign in NA-120. He underscored that PML-N would emerge as the greater political force in the NA-120 by-election as it was a stronghold of the party.
PTI candidate Yasin Rashid, along with a group of party leaders and workers, initiated a door-to-door campaign in the Mozang and Lytton Road areas. The PTI has built its campaign narrative over the ruling alleged party’s corruption and the disqualification of the former premier. Rashid is trying to garner votes by highlighting PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s struggle against corruption.
Speaking to the media, Rashid said there was great awareness among citizens of NA-120. “There was great enthusiasm among citizens and they have expressed their commitment to vote for PTI in the by-election scheduled for September 17.”
She underlined this time, the party had decided to contest for the seat in a more organised manner and it would not the ruling party to “rig the poll”. She challenged Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to test his popularity against her in the by-election.
She alleged the ruling party had already started pre-poll rigging by using the state machinery and local government system for their electioneering. She said the ruling party had displayed banners and posters in favour of a disqualified prime minister and the entire Punjab machinery was deployed for the former premier’s return to Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2017.