–PTI to face tough time as ex-PM, daughter are likely to launch hard-hitting by-election campaign
–PML-N supremo to woo voters in Punjab’s nine NA, 13 PA seats up for grabs
LAHORE: The release on bail of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam has strengthened the political position of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the upcoming by-elections.
Sources within the PML-N are of the view that the ex-premier and his daughter are still undergoing the trauma of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s death and they both might refrain from political activities for a few days. On the other hand, some senior party leaders believe that it is the right time for both leaders to get back into the political arena with the nearing of October 14 by-elections which hold immense significance for the fate of 11 National Assembly (NA) and 26 provincial assembly (PA) seats.
By-elections to be held next month are for those NA and PA seats which were either left by the contestants or postponed due to various reasons.
In the case of National Assembly, six out of 11 seats have been vacated by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Prime Minister Imran Khan, who won all five contested seats in the July 25 polls, had left four, including NA-35 Bannu, NA-53 Islamabad, NA-131 Lahore and NA-243 Karachi.
Similarly, PTI candidate and present Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan left the seat from NA-63 whereas another candidate Col (r) Tahir Sadiq left one seat from NA-56 Attock after winning two NA seats.
PTI’s ally, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Pervaiz Elahi, who got elected as Punjab Assembly Speaker, left two NA seats: NA-65 Chakwal and NA-69 Gujrat.
Another seat of National Assembly, NA-103 Faisalabad was vacated because of the death of winning independent candidate Mirza Muhammad Ahmed Mughal. The election was postponed in NA-60 Rawalpindi after the disqualification of PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi in Ephedrine case. The eleventh seat is from Lahore’s NA -124 in which PML-N candidate, and Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader, Hamza Shehbaz had won but later reduced himself to the provincial assembly.
In case of the provincial assemblies, the by-elections will be held in 13 constituencies in Punjab which are PP-3, PP27, PP-87, PP-103, PP-118, PP-164, PP-165, PP-201, PP-222, PP-261, PP-272, PP-292 and PP-296. Whereas the by-elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are in PK-3, PK-7, PK-97, PK-78, Pk-64, PK-61, Pk-53, PK-44 and PK-99 constituencies.
By-elections in Sindh will be held in PS-30 and PS-87 constituencies whereas in Balochistan the by-elections would be in PB-35 and PB-40 constituencies.
SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT ALREADY:
PML-N leaders claim that despite the temporary relief for the Sharifs, there is a sense of achievement, vigour and triumphant force among the party. The political morale of the party members and workers has raised significantly, they said, adding that “passion and power will affect the results of the by-elections as the party has risen up with a new fervour”.
Nine NA seats apart from 13 provincial assembly seats are in Punjab and the vote bank of PML-N cannot be overlooked at this instant, sources said. Similarly, in some constituencies of the NA, the PML-N had given a hard time to the rival candidates who won with marginal votes.
Sources among the PML-N ranks admitted that the campaign for the candidates of by-elections will be carried out by Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz which would create an unusual influence on the voters.
“Nawaz Sharif knows the art of handling coalition partners as well as candidates,” the sources said, adding that if the former premier is able to take along the political alliances that are not on good terms with his brother Shehbaz Sharif, it might result in an unanticipated change of the political climate of the assemblies.