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RAWALPINDI: Though the PPP had announced to support the PML-N in the by-elections in Punjab, including in Rawalpindi, its workers seemed divided as some supported the PTI’s candidate in NA-60 while others backed the PML-N.

No major PPP leader visited the polling camps of the PML-N on the day of the election and the workers went with their own choice.

A senor PPP leader told Dawn the party workers had wanted it to field a candidate of its own.

“It is the negligence of the PPP leadership that they did not field a candidate in NA-60. Mukhtar Abbas refused to contest the by-elections,” he said, adding that this will affect the party’s position in the upcoming local government elections.

He said the PPP should do its homework before the elections and appoint an in-charge for this in the various national and provincial assembly constituencies.

He said workers did not know the party’s candidates in the July 25 general elections and that there was also confusion about the party’s candidate for the by-polls till the eleventh hour.

He added that the party would have put up a good fight in the by-polls if it had fielded a strong candidate since the PTI is divided.

PPP city spokesperson Nasir Mir told Dawn that the party had not made the right decision and had repeated the mistake of 1985 when it left the field open for other parties.

“After the 1985 boycott of the elections, the PPP lost its strongholds in Punjab and the same was done in these by-polls,” he said, adding that the leadership should sit together and find ways to improve its position in the largest province.

In Rawalpindi, he said, workers were divided on whether they should support the PTI or PML-N. He said many local leaders had openly supported the Lal Haveli group led by Sheikh Rashid Ahmed while others voted for the PML-N.

He said the party will suffer in the next general elections due to the wrong decisions and that the party workers voted for no one other than Benazir Bhutto when she was alive.

However, the jialas have changed and support the stronger group in their area as there are no ideological voters in Rawalpindi.

“There is a leadership vacuum in the city and Cantt areas which the party needs to fill,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2018