The Awami National Party (ANP) on Wednesday announced the withdrawal of its candidate for the upcoming by-elections in NA-249 Karachi, scheduled for April 29, in favour of PML-N's Miftah Ismail.
The seat had fallen vacant after Faisal Vawda of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf resigned from the National Assembly for his Senate seat. In the 2018 general elections, Vawda had defeated PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif with a narrow margin.
The ANP had fielded Haji Aurangzeb Khan Buneri, but the party withdrew his candidacy after talks with the PML-N.
The development comes a day after the ANP parted ways with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — an anti-government alliance of opposition parties — following the issuance of a show-cause notice to it by PDM general secretary and PML-N senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The notice was served to the ANP for its support to the PPP candidate in the Senate opposition leader election.
ANP central vice-president Ameer Haider Khan Hoti had said the PDM was not a political party that could issue notices to its members. The party had also expressed its displeasure on the notice and said it was meant to damage ANP’s political status.
Talking to media in Karachi on Wednesday, ANP Sindh General Secretary Younis Buneri said ANP candidate Haji Aurangzeb Khan dropped out of the electoral race in favour of Ismail in accordance with a party decision.
He said ANP's members were democratic people, “and we are free to make our own decisions; though we are no more with the PDM our struggle for democracy will continue.”
Buneri also said he had decided to support Ismail after consulting the Provincial Advisory Council.
Aurangzeb, who withdrew his candidacy in favour of Ismail, said that the party was committed to its decisions and hoped that the PML-N would win the by-election.
On Tuesday, while speaking to Dawn News on the programme 'Live with Adil Shahzeb', ANP leader Aimal Wali Khan held the PML-N and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) responsible for playing a major role in the disintegration of the PDM.
Khan said political alliances did not work in this manner. "We can't even name this alliance the Pakistan Democratic Movement," he added.
Speaking alongside Buneri, former finance minister Ismail welcomed the ANP’s decision to withdraw its candidate in favour of the PML-N. He expressed the hope to collaborate with the ANP to "work for the betterment of the people".
“The support of ANP has infused energy in our hopes,” he added.
The PML-N leader said PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had stated that he would consult the party before making a final decision on supporting the PML-N candidate, but didn’t get back to the PML-N.
Ismail alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan had "ruined the economy of Pakistan".
“Sugar was priced Rs55 per kilogramme when we left the charge in 2018 and the same commodity is now available for over Rs100,” he said, adding that the PML-N government maintained the sugar price at Rs55/kg in its five-year tenure.
Ismail was recently in the limelight when, during canvassing for the by-election in the constituency, he distributed candies that had his face printed on the packaging.