All major political parties except Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have kicked off their preparations for the Punjab local government (LG) elections due in September, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Although the Supreme Court has given Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) a deadline to hold LG election in Punjab in September, the commission has yet to issue any date for the local bodies polls in the country’s most populous province.
Following abysmal situation of the party in Punjab, PPP’s Chairman Bialwala Bhutto Zardari has summoned PPP Punjab head Manzor Watto to Bilawal House, Karachi on Thursday (today).
Watto’s media adviser Akram Shaheedi while talking with The Express Tribune said that the PPP Punjab president will brief Chairman Bilawal about the strategy for LG elections and other party related affairs. Shaheedi made clear that PPP was still planning and has not started preparations for LG election.
About PML-N’s preparations, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave a go-ahead to the strategy devised by MNA Hamza Shahbaz-led Punjab Public Affairs Unit (PPAU) to win Punjab LG polls.
PPAU, which is credited with wining by-elections and LG elections in Cantonment Boards for the ruling party, is now eying for its biggest challenge – LG elections across the province.
Hamza Shahbaz, Senator Saud Majeed and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan are the three key leaders who framed the strategy. They have formed 36 committees for 36 districts of the province to recommend potential candidates for LG election. Hamza and Senator Saud Majeed will finalise the names in view of reports of the 36 committees.
Reliable sources revealed that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah is responsible to appoint, reshuffle and transfer government officials, particularly in the police department, to facilitate PML-N candidates for the upcoming LG election.
PTI launches campaign
PTI Punjab Organiser Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar launched the campaign for local government elections on Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference, Sarwar said the party had suffered grouping, especially in Lahore, but recent restructuring had united it.
“While our party has been divided into various groups, it is encouraging that after restructuring, all groups have come together under Shafqat Mahmood,” he said.
PTI has made MNA Shafqat Mehmood its district head of Lahore and assigned him the task to defeat PML-N on its home turf. Sarwar said that PTI had faced internal rifts over the allocation of tickets to candidates in the LG elections for Cantonment Boards.
The party has established Local Government Candidate Selection Boards to award tickets for the elections. The boards will be given two weeks, from July 15 to July 30, to decide which candidates the PTI will back.
PMLQ has appointed Raja Basharat as head of committee to strategise for the LG elections. Basharat has formed district committees and central committee in this regard. PML-Q claims that it has grass root level support of the party and might win majority in rural areas of the province.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)’s central leader and Dr Tahirul Qadri’s media advisor Noorullah Siddiqui said that central committee headed by Raheeq Abbasi has formed district level committees for choosing the candidates. He said that PAT will fully participate in the upcoming LG elections and hinted that his party might make seat adjustment with other like-minded political parties as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.