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RAWALPINDI: The campaign for the by-election in NA-60, scheduled to be held on Oct 14, has not yet gained momentum due to lack of interest from the ruling and opposition parties and their workers.

The candidates said the campaign will be launched formally after Muharram 10.

A senior PTI leader told Dawn party workers are no longer interested in campaigning as more than 12 leaders have submitted nomination papers and that the party is divided in groups.

ECP had postponed elections in the constituency after Hanif Abbasi’s disqualification

He said the party leaders had submitted applications with the party for conducting a survey in the city before formally launching an election campaign in the constituency.

“PTI conducted a survey in NA-53 before finalising a candidate but this was not done in NA-60 and the party ticket was given to Awami Muslim League President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique,” he said.

He added that the party’s local leaders met on Saturday and demanded the party conduct a survey of party workers. He said the main local leaders were against the nomination of Sheikh Rashid Shafique.

When asked, former PTI MPA Arif Abbasi said workers are not interested in the election campaign and will start after observing Muharram.

He said it would be difficult to conduct public meetings in Muharram.

The PML-N has also yet to launch its election campaign. After defeat in the district, party leaders seem to be resting and avoiding direct contact with people.

“There is a perception in the party that it is useless to make an effort to win the by-elections as the time is not right for the party. Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz are in jail and could not get bail which has affected moral,” a senior party leader said.

Former PML-N MNA Malik Shakil Awan said the party will contest the election and will not leave the field open to opponents.

“In the coming days, people will understand the wrong policies of the PTI. Inflation and the rise in the prices of electricity and natural gas have badly affected the lives of common people within the first 20 days of the Imran Khan government,” he said.

The election for NA-60 was postponed after the disqualification of PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi due to his conviction by the Control of Narcotics Substances Court in the ephedrine case.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018