LAHORE, Dec 16: Making it a ‘now or never’ fight, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has adopted the policy of attracting each and every electable, particularly in the districts where it is politically weak.
There is a growing concern among the PML-N elders that if the party fails to make it through to the power corridors this time, it will be fairly difficult for it to maintain its popularity graph and defeat the Pakistan People’s Party in some other polls, admits a senior party official.
“Keeping this apprehension in mind, we are pulling everyone who can be pulled with a special focus on southern Punjab where the party does not traditionally hold sway,” he says.
That makes sense when one looks at changing of loyalties by a whole bloc of PPP MPAs from Khanewal. The PML-N could not win even a single seat from the district in the 2008 polls.
When asked about the party’s team assigned the task to lure electables from the PPP, PML-Q and other parties, the official said no specific leader had been given the assignment as everybody who could ‘contribute’ effort in this regard was working towards that end. “A point scoring game is also being witnessed in the party in this respect,” the official admitted.
PML-N media coordinator Tariq Azeem confirms the reports, but in his own way.
When asked about the reported ‘joining offer’ by the party to state minister for information and broadcasting Samsam Bokhari and other PPP MNAs, he says the process (of making contacts) has been continuing since long with concentration on the PML-Q but it was accelerated only after the recent bypolls.
According to him, so far there has been pressure from many PML-Q members to unify both (rather all) Muslim League factions or at least they wanted to quit the Q League to join the ‘N’. But, after the recent by-polls a new trend has emerged wherein many PPP members are also ‘inclined’ to join the PML-N, he adds.
He claims a majority of the ‘jiyalas’ is unhappy with the present PPP policies and term it ‘Zardari party’.
Among this unhappy lot of the PPP diehards, he says, there are those, in a considerable number, who are not ready to be dubbed as plunderers of national wealth because of the loot of other leaders and are weighing their options of either joining hands with the PML-N or contesting the next polls independently.
About the others, he claims that most of them will choose to abstain instead of voting for the PPP, like they did in 1997.
Coming back to Mr Bokhari, he says the PPP leader is such a ‘nice and clean person’ that every party wishes to embrace such people into its folds.
He says he himself will be speaking for the state minister in case the latter shows inclination to join the PML-N.
Asked if these people are being lured through the ‘party ticket incentive’, he says no such promise is being made by party chief Nawaz Sharif with anyone as the tickets will be distributed only through the parliamentary boards.
Another PML-N official upported Azeem’s contention by disclosing that Chaudhry Ameer Husain, the former National Assembly speaker, Akhtar Rizvi and some others from Sialkot and Narowal districts were to join the party but their enthusiasm was dampened when they were told that they should join ‘unconditionally’.
“With announcement of the election schedule, you will see a large number of PPP and PML-Q leaders joining the PML-N,” Azeem claims.