• Kicks off canvassing for candidates in Senate polls
• Will host lunch for ruling alliance MNAs today
ISLAMABAD: Leading the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s Senate election campaign from the front, Prime Minister Imran Khan met almost three dozen parliamentarians on Monday after cancelling his official engagements.
PM Khan will also host a luncheon for National Assembly lawmakers belonging to the ruling alliance at the Prime Minister’s House on Tuesday (today), a day before the polling.
Insiders told Dawn that during separate meetings with the MNAs in the Parliament House, most lawmakers sought development funds for their constituencies from the prime minister. Accompanied by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar and Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, PM Khan asked the parliamentarians to support the ruling alliance’s candidates.
Some of the lawmakers met the prime minister separately while others in groups.
Interestingly, the Punjab governor attended all the meetings despite the fact that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had barred all the governors, along with President Arif Alvi, from canvassing for the March 3 election.
The MNAs who called on the PM included Gul Dad Khan, Gul Zafar Khan, Jawad Hussain, Mohammad Iqbal Afridi, Sajid Khan, Dr Haider Ali, Noor Alam Khan, Mohammad Aslam Bhootani, Uzma Riaz, Zil-i-Huma, Nafeesa Khattak and Shandana Gulzar.
Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, Special Assistant Malik Mohammad Amir Dogar, Fauzia Arshad, Saira Bano, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, Makhdoom Samiul Hassan, Rana Mohammad Qasim Noon, Fakhar Zaman Khan, Munazza Hassan, Ghaus Bakhsh Mehr, Naureen Ibrahim, Shaheen Naaz, Safdar Khan Leghari, Sanaullah Mastikhel, Niaz Ahmed Jhakra, Amjad Ali Khan Niazi and Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi also met the prime minister.
Among other matters, a source said, Mr Khan also discussed the much-awaited Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, met several MNAs in the Parliament House on Monday.
Mr Shaikh started canvassing on Sunday, and went door to door to meet members of the National Assembly in the Parliament Lodges.
A tough contest is expected between former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Mr Shaikh for the Senate seat in Islamabad.
The National Assembly is the electoral college for the seat and the session of the lower house will be held on March 3 during which voting will take place.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Khan had awarded tickets to credible, honest and competent candidates and PTI’s parliamentarians would vote for them to acknowledge his (Imran Khan) 22-year struggle against corruption and to strengthen democracy and ensure supremacy of the rule of law.
In reply to a question, Mr Faraz alleged that there were serious differences among the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) member parties on the award of ticket to Mr Gilani. PTI’s candidate Shaikh was an honest and respectable candidate and would achieve an overwhelming majority, he claimed.He said political hypocrisy was the hallmark of opposition’s politics as they had chosen a candidate for the Islamabad seat who had tried to protect his leader facing corruption charges. “He (Yousaf Raza Gilani) did not write to the Swiss authorities despite the Supreme Court’s instructions as a result of which the country suffered loss of millions of dollars,” Mr Faraz added.
Replying to a question about Maryam Nawaz’s recent statement on the long march, the minister said all institutions were independent and no one was allowed to pressurise them. He said the opposition’s double standards had exposed it before the people, which was why they had shown no interest in PDM’s public rallies.
Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2021