‘PTI defectors, tough economic decisions dealt blow to PML-N in Punjab by-polls’

Ruling party huddle chaired by PM Shehbaz mulled options to save Hamza’s govt in Punjab, say sources

Our Correspondent July 18, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a PML-N meeting in Islamabad on Monday. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE


The decision to award tickets to PTI defectors, high inflation due to record increase in the prices of fuel and electricity among other reasons resulted in the thumping defeat to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) in Sunday’s Punjab by-elections, according to a party report submitted in its high-level huddle on Monday.

The rival PTI won the race for the coveted Punjab battlefield hands down last night, clinching 15 provincial assembly seats out of the 20 up for grabs and dealing a stunning blow to the 13-party alliance led by the PML-N on its home turf.

The detailed report on by-polls defeat was presented to the high command of PML-N in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad on Monday, reported Express News.

Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, federal ministers Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Asif, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Azam Nazir Tarar and senior party leaders — Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Malik Ahmed Khan, Attaullah Tarar, Sardar Owais Leghari, Rana Mashhood — and others attended the meeting.

The huddle discussed the factors that led to the defeat of PML-N against its rival PTI in the polls and future course of action including possible options to save the CM Hamza-led Punjab government.

The PTI’s victory has not only dealt a blow to PML-N’s narrative of performance in Punjab but has also turned the tables on the politics of electables.

The chief minister’s elections, scheduled to be held on the apex court’s orders, will now see Hamza probably losing his office and Pervaiz Elahi’s ascension to power as CM Punjab.

Currently, the PML-N’s combined strength is 175 and with three more votes PML-N's total tally will rise to 178, while the PTI on its own will have a strength of 178, excluding the vote of estranged PTI MPA also the deputy speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari. With 10 more votes of PML-Q, Elahi’s victory is certain.

The sources said PM Shehbaz will summon a meeting of the coalition parties to formulate the future political strategy as the ‘surprising’ by-polls results intensified the calls for early general elections.

The party insiders said Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah presented the detailed analytical report of each constituency where the party lost the elections.

Also read: Kaptaan’s stunning inswinger

As per the report, the PML-N workers and supporters rejected the ‘turncoats,’ who defected from the PTI.

The party officials, workers and former local body representatives did not run the robust election campaign, said the report.

Moreover, the report added that PML-N-led government’s tough economic decisions to secure the IMF bailout package played a major role in the defeat.

‘Joint political strategy’

Meanwhile, heads of major coalition parties — PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rahman —held a telephonic conversation in the wake of major setback in the Punjab by-polls.

According to sources, the three leaders reviewed the defeat of PML-N candidates during the by-elections and discussed the future political strategy in the province and at the Center.

The three leaders agreed that a joint political strategy would be formulated in consultation with the allies.

A day earlier, PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also said that the ruling party paid the price of ‘difficult decisions’ taken by the coalition government that came into power on the back of Imran Khan’s ouster through no-trust vote in parliament.

Also read: ‘Difficult decisions’ cost PML-N dearly: Nawaz Sharif

Source privy to the development told Express News that Nawaz Sharif, who has been living in London for his ‘medical treatment’ since 2019, contacted his younger brother Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz – son of PM Shehbaz – and directed them to call an emergency meeting of the party to discuss the future course of action in the context of the results of yesterday’s by-elections.

‘Imran unfit to hold public office’

Earlier in the day, PM Shehbaz said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) under “the direct supervision of Imran Khan”, ran a sordid campaign to defame national institutions that is tantamount to undermine Pakistan.

In a tweet, the prime minister said that every speech “Imran Niazi delivers shows how unfit he is to hold public office”. He added that Imran Khan was rewriting Machiavellian principles of politics in his lust for power.

“Every speech Imran Niazi delivers shows how unfit he is to hold public office. Under his direct supervision, the PTI has run a sordid campaign to defame national institutions & thus undermine Pakistan. He is rewriting Machiavellian principles of politics in his lust for power.”


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