Efforts to bring all opposition parties on a single platform and put up a unified fight against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the by-polls are in full swing.
Awami National Party (ANP) Provincial General Secretary Arbab Mohammad Tahir said his party has taken the lead to unify all major opposition groups. “Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour has contacted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leadership to bring everyone together before the by-elections.”
Tahir said it is likely that the PML-N will join this alliance. On the other hand, PML-Q, which has been weakened considerably, had earlier agreed to back ANP candidate Bilour in Peshawar. Tahir claimed they have been overwhelmed by the public response received in the electoral campaign and said PTI’s ‘magic of change is waning.’
PML-N Provincial General Secretary Rehmat Salam Khattak confirmed Bilour had contacted his party’s General Secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and K-P Assembly Opposition Leader Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan. The party has not issued any directives in regard to forming an alliance with other opposition parties in K-P, Khattak said.
“Public perception about the PTI is changing because they are failing to deliver,” stated Tahir. “It seems there are three chief ministers from three coalition partners in K-P and it is affecting governance.”
The ANP is running a joint election campaign with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for two National Assembly (NA) seats and one provincial assembly seat,
These include NA-1 Peshawar, NA-5 Nowshera and PK-23 Mardan, where the JUI-F and PPP are backing ANP candidates. In return, the ANP is supporting the JUI-F on four seats, including NA-13 Swabi, NA-25 DI Khan, NA-27 Lakki Marwat and PK-70 Bannu.
The PPP, however, is not supporting the JUI-F on these seats because both parties failed to reach an agreement. This might be because JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman won from NA-25 and NA-27 and was not willing to give them up. Senior PPP members lost these seats in the general elections.
PPP lawmaker Nighat Orakzai said both parties had held several meetings to discuss cooperation in the by-polls, but they remained unfruitful. She said the JUI-F’s support to the PML-N in the presidential elections was one of the factors that led to the disagreement.
Orakzai said they are not expecting Fazlur Rehman to join hands with the PML-N after doing the same with the PPP.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2013.