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Pakistan Politics

PDM divided for National Assembly by-election.

PDM divided for National Assembly by-election.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) opposes postponing elections, according to Faisal Karim Kundi, minister of state for eradicating poverty in Lahore. He emphasised that elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) should take place as scheduled.

The PPP communication secretary, Kundi, stated in an interview that “elections is not an issue rather answer to all the problems in the system.” The party hoped that the elections will be held on time, he continued. “No reasons should be invented to delay the elections,” he said. “The PPP ran for office after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed and during the times when the party leaders were under danger.

In the next by-elections, he continued, the PPP will be running candidates in each of the constituencies, and he hoped that “reason would prevail and other parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) will also follow the trend.” In contrast to the PDM’s decision, they “were never part of any [electoral] pact and their choice to run elections should not come as much of a surprise to anyone,” the minister of state continued. The PPP is exclusively associated with the PDM in the government, he continued.

Additionally, Kundi stated that the PPP had counselled the PDM to “not leave the field open” by participating in the elections. The PDM, he continued, “thought there was no use in expending all of their resources on these elections.”

On the other side, the PDM has not yet decided whether or not to field the candidates, according to Maulana Amjad, a spokesperson for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman recently met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to talk about by-elections and other issues. There was supposed to be an official statement on the subject, but none has been given as of yet.

An ex-officer of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who is familiar with the situation claims that Fazl restated his opinion that the PDM shouldn’t run in the upcoming by-elections during the meeting with the prime minister.

He continued by saying that the two leaders also talked about the potential for running in elections in coalition with all of the parties in the government and creating a mechanism for seat adjustments. On the other hand, the PML-N has reportedly informed its leaders that it will not be running in forthcoming elections. It is important to note that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf narrowly defeated the PML-N in the most recent two by-elections (PTI). As a result, sources claim that the ruling party has exercised caution whenever it enters any political arena.

Not only have the PML-N and their Pakistan Democratic Movement supporters chosen not to participate in the impending by-elections [so far], but they have also expressed support for those who oppose holding elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) within the Constitution’s allotted 90-day window.

The PML-N has been charged by the PTI with planning to stall the elections in Punjab and K-P. Multiple times, PML-N Spokesperson Marrium Aurganzeb was reached to get her party’s viewpoint on the by-elections, the Punjab, and the K-P elections, but she was unavailable for comment.

Azma Bukhari, a spokesman for the party in Punjab, was also unavailable. Ata Tarar, the special assistant to the prime minister for interior and legal affairs, stated that it appears they were not actually running in these elections. He acknowledged that the PML-N and the JUI-F were opposed to contesting the polls, whilst the Awami National Party (ANP) and the PPP wanted to. They thought it was a waste of time to vote in these elections, he continued.

In addition to noting that no tickets had been distributed, Tarar said that several PML-N candidates had submitted their paperwork as independent candidates. He claimed that there were numerous legal gaps with regard to the elections in Punjab and K-P. He continued by saying that without a computerised census, elections could not be held. All elections, he argued, ought to be held on time.

ML-N MPA According to Mian Marghoob, his party has made the decision to not field candidates in these by-elections. He responded that there was no use in his party running in elections for the NA seats with only a few months left in its term when asked why they decided against by-elections. He continued by saying that his party was not avoiding the polls; rather, they only felt that the effort would not be worthwhile.