Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique turned up the heat in the political campaign of his party colleague Ayaz Sadiq on Sunday, bashing the rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for extravagant spending in its bid to win the coveted NA-122 seat.
With the contest picking up increased momentum, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to throw its heavyweights into the battlefield, despite clear instructions from the election commission against it.
The by-polls on the seat, vacated by the suspension of the PML-N’s Sadiq, are planned for October 11. A close contest is expected between PTI’s Aleem Khan and Sadiq, who has once again been nominated by the ruling party.
Read: NA-122 by-poll: PTI holds impressive jalsa at Doongi Ground
On Sunday, Rafique joined Sadiq, the former National Assembly speaker, for a corner meeting with the party supporters in Samanabad. His address coincided with the PTI’s rally led by Imran Khan in the same neighbourhood.
A day earlier, the PML-N leader had announced at a news conference that ministers would run the campaigns for their party member in their personal capacities. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has barred any serving ministers from running political campaigns for their party members during the upcoming by-elections.
Addressing workers in the National Bank Colony, Rafique slammed the PTI for spending lavishly in the election campaign. He added the people of Lahore would not let the PTI occupy Lahore by spending huge amounts of money in the by-election. “The streets of Lahore will once again decide in favour of the PML-N.”
The minister said Imran had damaged his reputation and lost respect after joining politics. “It would have been better if Imran would have remained associated with cricket,” he added.
He said the PTI still had seats in the National Assembly only due to Sadiq, who did not accept their resignations. “They resigned from the assembly and called it fake. Now they abuse our party while contesting for the same assembly on a Lahore seat,” he added.
Separately, in a statement, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said politics of Imran had failed as evident from his falling popularity within two years judged by his rally at the Minar-e-Pakistan in 2013 to the Doongi Ground in 2015.
He said the defeat of PTI candidate in Haripur by-election at the hands of PML-N spoke volumes about the PTI’s failure in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. On one side, Rashid said, the PTI was opposing Lahore’s development projects and on the other, it was begging for votes from residents of the same city. Talking to different news channels, the minister said for the past two years, Imran had been claiming of electoral rigging but could not prove even a single incident.
Read: By-elections: Plea against use of govt machinery dismissed
He added that the PTI chief in his Doongi Ground address did not talk about 35 punctures, printing of ballot papers from Urdu Bazaar, former chief justice Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhry or any other he had been blaming for rigging.
Rashid alleged Imran had no positive or constructive programmes for the public, which was evident from the fact the K-P government did not launch any mega development project in the province. (With additional input from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2015.
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