RAWALPINDI: Abandoned by its own candidate, the PPP is now considering supporting the PML-N candidate in the NA-60 by-election and will announce a decision within a day or two.
The Election Commission (ECP) has announced that by-elections will be held on Oct 14. The ECP postponed the election in NA-60 on July 22, after PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi was convicted by a Control of Narcotic Substances court in the ephedrine case.
A senior PPP leader told Dawn that Mukhtar Abbas, the party’s candidate in NA-60, also contested the seat in the general election, but he had changed his mind and decided not to run.
Mr Abbas is the nephew of Allama Nasir Abbas from the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen and was new to the PPP, he said.
The PPP leader added that the party had refused a party ticket to traders’ representative Nadeem Sheikh, but had realised this was the wrong decision.
He said the party’s popularity had fallen in the city because of bad decisions over the last five years, and some former office bearers were supporting Sheikh Rashid Ahmed based on promises that they would be accommodated in the new local government setup.
Because they did not have an interest in party affairs, he added, local workers were divided into three groups. This forced the party leadership to appoint new office-bearers, while the party’s popularity at the local level did not improve.
In the July 25 elections, PPP’s Mohammad Gulzar won 2,653 votes in NA-61 while Sumera Gul won 5,587 votes in NA-62.
Malik Abrar from the PML-N won 60,000 votes in NA-61 and Daniyal Chaudhry won 97,000 in NA-62.
PPP City President Babar Jadoon told Dawn the party had nominated Mr Abbas in the by-election, but he withdrew his nomination papers without the party’s consent and informed the party of his decision at the last moment.
“Because of this, the PPP failed to field any other party worker for the election. The party faced embarrassment because of this, and it was difficult to submit nomination papers on the last day,” he added.
Mr Jadoon said the party wanted to contest the election and had a plan to campaign aggressively for this seat, as party workers were against Sheikh Rashid and would not leave the seat open for him.
But the party candidate changed his mind without taking the party leadership on board, he said, adding that the party would be careful about fielding candidates who are newcomers in the party.
When asked about the decision to challenge the PTI in Rawalpindi, Mr Jadoon said most party workers wanted to support the PML-N candidate.
“The party has no other choice but the support the opposition PML-N,” he said.
He added that PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq recently led a delegation to meet with Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and sought the PPP’s support in the by-elections. Mr Jadoon said the party would make a decision in this regard within a day or two.
“The party is considering two options – one is to announce support for the PML- and the other is to give local chapters a free hand to decide as per local politics,” he said.
In either case, he said, they would support the PML-N candidate in Rawalpindi, as party workers and local leaders did not want to stand on the side of Sheikh Rashid, whose nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique is running on the PTI ticket.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2018