PDM divided on contesting NA by-polls

PPP, ANP in favour of fielding candidates; PML-N, JUI-F see waste of time

  Rameez Khan February 09, 2023


Minister of State for Poverty Alleviation Faisal Karim Kundi has said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is against delaying elections, stressing that the polls in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) should be held in the stipulated time.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Kundi, also the PPP information secretary, said that “elections is not a problem rather solution to all the problems in the system”. He added that the party hoped that elections would be held in time.

“The PPP contested elections after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, and during the times when the party leaders were under threat, so no excuses should be coined to delay the elections,” he said.

He added that the PPP was fielding its candidates in all the constituencies in the upcoming by-polls, expressing the hope that “sense would prevail and other parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) will also follow the suit”.

The minister of state added that they “were never part of any [electoral] alliance and their decision to contest elections, contrary to the decision taken by the PDM, should not come as much of a surprise to anyone”. He added: “The PPP is only allied with the PDM in the government, and that’s it.”

Kundi also said that the PPP had suggested to the PDM to participate in the elections and advised it “not to leave the field open”. However, he added, “The PDM believed that there was no point in exhausting their energies on these elections”.

On the other hand, the PDM, according to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) spokesperson Maulana Amjad, has yet to decide whether or not to field the candidates.

Recently, PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman, met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the issue of by-polls and other matters. It was expected that a formal statement would be issued on the matter, however, thus far there has been no official word.

According to a former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) office-bearer familiar with the development, Fazl, during the meeting with the prime minister, reiterated his position that the PDM should not contest the upcoming by-elections.

He added that both the leaders also discussed the possibilities of contesting elections in alliance with all parties in the government and devising a seat-adjustment formula. The PML-N, on the other hand, according to its leaders, has officially decided against contesting these elections.

It is pertinent to mention here that in recent two by-elections PML-N lost miserably to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Therefore, the ruling party has been cautious, while entering into any political arena, according to sources.

Not only that PML-N and their allies in the Pakistan Democratic Movement [thus far] opted out of the upcoming by-elections, but also voiced support for those who are against holding elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in the stipulated time period of 90 days as given in Constitution.

The PTI has accused the PML-N of contriving to delay K-P and Punjab elections. PML-N Spokesperson Marrium Aurganzeb was contacted multiple times to seek her party’s opinion on the by-polls and the Punjab and K-P elections, however, she was not available for comments.

Similarly party’s Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari was also unavailable. However, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Interior and Legal Affairs Ata Tarar said it seems that they were not participating in these elections after all.

He admitted that the Awami National Party (ANP) and the PPP wanted to contest the elections whereas the PML-N and the JUI-F were against it. He added that they believed that participating in these elections was a waste of time.

Tarar said that some PML-N candidates had filed nomination papers as independent candidates and added that no tickets had been awarded.

Regarding the elections in Punjab and K-P, he said that there were a lot of legal lacunae. He added that a digital census was yet to be held, how could elections be held without it. He said that all elections should be held in time.

PML-N MPA Mian Marghoob said that his party had indeed decided not to field candidates in these by elections. When asked why did his party choose to stay away from by-polls, he said there was no point in contesting elections for the NA seats with only a few months remaining in its tenure. He added that his party was not chickening out of the elections, they just thought it was not worth the effort.


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