The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has intensified its campaign for NA-122, Lahore, and NA-154, Lodharan, by-polls and local government elections. More than 20 Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) supporters joined the PTI on Sunday.
Those who joined the party in Lahore included Mian Ikhlaq Ahmed Guddu from the PML-Q. They made the announcement at a ceremony attended by PTI Punjab organiser Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar and candidate for NA-122 Aleem Khan. Nazir Mughal, candidate for vice chairman in UC 121, withdrew his candidacy in favour of PTI’s Mehr Abdul Waheed.
Sarwar said that people from other parties joining the PTI indicated that support for the PTI was increasing. He said the PTI had welcomed the 20 political workers after consultation with its leaders and workers.
Sarwar demanded that the army be deployed at polling stations to ensure fair elections. “Otherwise, it will be difficult for us to accept by-poll results.”
Two former MNAs and two former ticket holders also announced that they would support PTI’s Jahangir Tareen in the NA-154 elections. They were former PML-N MNAs Akhtar Kanju and Zawar Warraich, former ticket holder Ahmad Nawaz Joiya, former MPA Qasim Khan Malaizai and former secretary to parliament Tahir Malaizai.
Akhtar Kanju had been twice elected MNA from NA-155. Zawar Warraich had lost the 2013 general elections. The PML-(N) has given its ticket to Umair Khan Baloch, a son of Siddiq Khan Baloch who has been declared ineligible by an election tribunal. The Kanju group, led by MNA Abdur Rehman Kanju, has great influence in Lodhran. Abdur Rehman Kanju is the son of slain former minister Siddiq Khan Kanju.
The group had won six provincial assembly and two national assembly seats in the 2013 general elections in Lodhran. By-election in NA-154 will held on October 12.
Separately, Lahore organising committee’s Farrukh Javed Moon said PTI chief Imran Khan would join the election campaign this week. “Khan is expected to arrive in Lahore on September 30,” he said.
The party has planned a two-day campaign after Lahore High Court suspended an Election Commission of Pakistan’s notification banning MNAs and MPAs from campaigning.
Abdul Aleem Khan had announced on Saturday night that Imran Khan would lead the final round of the campaign. The PTI chief is also expected to inaugurate party offices in the constituency.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2015.