KARACHI: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl on Thursday formally announced withdrawal of its candidate from the race for NA-249 by-election, brightening chances for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Miftah Ismail’s win, in line with decision of the embattled opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Move­ment (PDM).

The alliance’s now estranged member, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has, however, not shown any sign of pulling out of the contest to ensure PDM candidate’s victory.

The by-poll has created interesting political scene in the country’s business capital as the Awami National Party (ANP), which has though parted ways with the PDM, has decided to withdraw its candidate in favour of Miftah Ismail.

On Wednesday afternoon, a PML-N delegation led by Mr Ismail had met leaders of the JUI-F at its office and the two sides agreed on a joint strategy for electioneering of the NA-249 by-election scheduled for April 29.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, the two sides announced the consensus decision that Maulana Umar Sadiq, the JUI-F’s candidate, had withdrawn in favour of the PML-N’s Ismail.

“We welcome the gesture shown by the JUI-F leadership. The two parties are pursuing the same policy which they had agreed upon when the PDM was formed with the single objective to restore true democracy in the country and wage a joint struggle against all undemocratic forces,” he said.

He said the economic conditions, foreign policy and fast-deteriorating social sector demanded a joint struggle by the country’s democratic forces and it was high time they moved together for larger interest of nation leaving behind short-sightedness and personal agendas.

PML-N had sought support of PPP in the by-election a month ago, when former prime minister and senior party leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took up the matter in a meeting with PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at Bilawal House.

But PPP now appears to have reviewed all its decisions after cracks in the PDM and a recent meeting of the PPP candidate for NA-249 with Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at Bilawal House suggests the party is not going to pull out of the race.

Meanwhile, the JUI-F leaders sounded confident and said that withdrawal of the party candidate from the election contest would not dampen their interest in the by-poll.

The seat had fallen vacant after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Faisal Vawda resigned last month to be able to run for Senate seat.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021

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