GUJRAT: The mainstream opposition parties think that the PTI government can only hold the local polls under pressure of the Supreme Court as the situation is not favourable to take such a risk amid “poor state of economy and bad governance”.
Some senior party leaders of the PPP and the PML-N also hint at the option of contesting jointly from the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) in case the government holds the local polls.
An apex court bench has sought replies from the ECP and provinces on delay in local elections.
Punjab PPP president Qamar Zaman Kaira told Dawn that there were only two points that the government could consider for holding the local elections -- the first under pressure of the Supreme Court and the second to divert the PDM’s anti-government movement in the country. However, he said, holding elections could also prove counter-productive as defending the government under its poor performance would be a daunting task for the PTI candidates and supporters in every nook and corner of country.
He said though the component parties of PDM did not discuss the option of contesting the local polls jointly, the option was there as happened in case of by-polls and the coming Senate elections in the country.
MNA Abid Raza Kotla, Gujranwala division president of PML-N, said the PTI would be defeated by the PDM if the government go for local elections in the prevailing situation and that was why the government might not take any such risk. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had been unaware of his party’s position at the grassroots level across the country whereas the PML-N had gained momentum which was evident from the massive response to PML-N candidates in by-polls of Gujranwala division such as NA 75 Daska (Sialkot) and PP 51 Wazirabad where polling would be held on Feb 19.Jamaat-i-Islami North Punjab Emir Dr Tariq Saleem said that after failing to control inflation, law and order and improving the governance, the only option left with the PTI government was to go for the local elections in a bid to engage the people into it.
PTI MPA Saleem Sarwar Jaura said PM Imran Khan had always been willing to hold local elections but the procedural hitches were the only cause of delay. He said that deliberations on introducing some amendments to the LG Act 2019 were under way.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2021