ISLAMABAD: As the race for the presidential election heats up, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl has decided to throw its weight behind Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate Mamnoon Hussain, according to sources.
In a meeting on Thursday with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman assured his party’s support for former Sindh governor Hussain. However, he will announce this decision officially today.
Parliamentarians belonging to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas also met PM Nawaz and sources said they too will support Hussain for the elections.
At the same time, Pakistan Peoples Party appears undecided whether or not to boycott the elections as the response from other opposition parties vis-à-vis forging a consensus is said to be not too encouraging. But PPP, too, will take a final decision in this regard today.
The senior leadership of the party was busy holding a range of meetings with the leaders of opposition parties in a bid to rally support to either boycott the elections or evolve consensus over its candidate, Raza Rabani.
The PPP is not pleased with the Supreme Court’s order to hold the elections on July 30 instead of the original date of August 6.
Senior leaders, including Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and the party’s presidential candidate Raza Rabbani held separate meetings with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and Qaumi Wattan Party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.
The top brass of PPP – the biggest opposition group in the National Assembly –discussed the implications of the rescheduling and whether to participate or not as it feels that candidates have been deprived of the right to campaign, believing they would have insufficient time to campaign in all the constituencies.
It was also making efforts to evolve opposition consensus over Rabbani’s candidacy, but except for ANP and PML-Q, no other party has decided to extend its support as yet. QWP chief Sherpao also said he would announce a decision after consultation within the party.
PTI has already fielded its candidate for the elections, Justice (retd) Wajiuddin Ahmed.
Speaking to reporters after meeting PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shajaat, Rabbani said his party was contacting all opposition parties to evolve a consensus. He said the final decision would be taken today on whether to participate in the polls or boycott them.
Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali said his party would support PPP in whatever decision it makes.
Chaudhry Shujaat said there should have been a consensus presidential candidate from both the opposition and government, but PML-N did not accept that. Now, he said, the opposition should have a joint strategy.
Speaking to reporters at Islamabad airport on his return from London, PTI chief Imran Khan said his party had not taken any decision over a joint candidate. He added the future strategy would be developed after consulting his party.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2013.