LAHORE: The Pakistan People’s Party is contesting against heavyweights like Begum Kulsoom Nawaz of the PML-N and Dr Yasmin Rashid, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate, in the all important NA-120 by-poll without offering its nominee, Faisal Mir, any active moral or material support.

In contrast, the central and provincial leaderships of both the PML-N and the PTI are very much there in the field campaigning for their respective candidates.

Begum Kulsoom’s daughter Maryam Nawaz is personally overseeing her mother’s campaign, by daily visiting the constituency and holding rallies there.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is also likely to join in on his return from London, where the PML-N candidate and former first lady is undergoing cancer treatment. He has already addressed a large public gathering in the constituency, though not election-specific, at the conclusion of his homecoming rally from Islamabad to Lahore on Aug 12.

PML-N parliamentarians and local body representatives are also active for their party contestant, ignoring the show-cause notices by the Election Commission, the top electoral watchdog, and objections raised by the rivals.

Federal minister Pervaiz Malik is in-charge of the PML-N campaign. In the rival camp, PTI Chairman Imran Khan is set to address a public meeting on the outskirts of the constituency on Aug 8 to spur Dr Rashid’s campaign, while he is also scheduled to lead a rally before the conclusion of the electioneering for the by-polls.

During his Aug 26 visit to the provincial capital, Mr Khan had reportedly also asked some well-off party members to extend financial help to Dr Rashid for her election expenses.

Senior party leaders like Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Punjab Assembly opposition leader Mahmoodur Rasheed are extending their moral support to Dr Rashid keeping in view the ECP bar on the parliamentarians, while former governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Ijaz Chaudhry, Andleeb Abbas and Abdul Aleem Khan can also be seen taking part in the campaign. Ms Abbas, a central executive committee member, is PTI campaign in-charge.

The PPP leadership is, however, ‘missing’ from the scene as neither Asif Ali Zardari nor his son and chairperson Bilawal Bhutto has so far made any appearance in the constituency to boost morale of jiyalas and so far.

No one in the party is ready to give the official word on the reasons behind reluctance of the leadership to join the by-poll campaign.

But, some insiders say the PPP central leaders are waiting for the feedback on Mir’s campaign. They fear that a poor response to any call for a public gathering (addressed by PPP top leadership) could hurt the developing impression that Bilawal is gaining popularity among the masses, they say.

They claim that the leadership had set for Mir the target of emerging as runner-up in the electoral bout and offered him full financial support.

But Mir denies he had been given any target or offered funding. “I’m in the fray to win not to secure second position and I am running the campaign at my own expense as not a single penny has been given to me (by the party) for the purpose.”

He admits that he is lagging far behind Begum Kulsoom and Dr Rashid in publicity material and blames paucity of funds for it.

Sources say that some provincial leaders of the PPP have suggested abandoning the by-poll to make it a match between the PML-N and PTI, fearing that PPP candidate may hit the vote bank of Dr Rashid.

The proponents of this proposal, they say, are not taking part in Mir’s campaign, which is being run without any worthwhile person as in-charge.

Observers, however, believe that by not participating in Mir’s campaign, the PPP leadership is missing a “Godsend opportunity” to revive the party in Punjab in general and Lahore in particular.

They are of the view that if the party could mange to grab around 40,000 votes in the by-poll, the highest tally it could ever reach in the constituency, it could infuse a new spirit among its demoralised workers.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2017

Opinion

Rule by law

Rule by law

‘The rule of law’ is being weaponised, taking on whatever meaning that fits the political objectives of those invoking it.

Editorial

Isfahan strikes
Updated 20 Apr, 2024

Isfahan strikes

True de-escalation means Israel must start behaving like a normal state, not a rogue nation that threatens the entire region.
President’s speech
20 Apr, 2024

President’s speech

PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari seems to have managed to hit all the right notes in his address to the joint sitting of...
Karachi terror
20 Apr, 2024

Karachi terror

IS urban terrorism returning to Karachi? Yesterday’s deplorable suicide bombing attack on a van carrying five...
X post facto
Updated 19 Apr, 2024

X post facto

Our decision-makers should realise the harm they are causing.
Insufficient inquiry
19 Apr, 2024

Insufficient inquiry

UNLESS the state is honest about the mistakes its functionaries have made, we will be doomed to repeat our follies....
Melting glaciers
19 Apr, 2024

Melting glaciers

AFTER several rain-related deaths in KP in recent days, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sprung into...