LAHORE: The PPP is forging ahead with its polls’ preparation even as its coalition partner in the Centre, the PML-N, is still mulling its future course of action.

The PPP has sought applications from ‘potential’ candidates for the award of tickets for general elections in Punjab, while the PML-N seems confused about whether to go into polls or challenge the Supreme Court decision.

President Arif Alvi has announced April 30 as the date for polls in Punjab in line with the apex court’s verdict, but the PML-N leadership is reluctant to take a ‘clear stance’ on plans to contest polls.

Even at a party meeting in Gujranwala on Saturday, PML-N Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz Sharif avoided giving any direction regarding preparations for the polls.

PML-N leaders are still adamant that polls can’t be held ‘on the wishes of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’.

In a recent media talk, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal insisted the elections for national and provincial assemblies should be held on the same day.

When asked why the PML-N was not taking a clear stance about going into polls in Punjab, party leader Talal Chaudhry said elections can’t be held on Mr Khan’s wishes.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah is also on record having said that the party has not taken any decision on challenging the apex court’s decision.

But PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bokhari has rebuffed the impression of any confusion regarding going into elections in the province.

Talking to Dawn, she said Ms Sharif has covered six divisions in Punjab as part of the preparations.

Soon the party’s parliamentary boards will be announced to issue tickets, she added.

Calling Mr Khan “untouchable,” the PML-N leader said justice should be seen in the cases against the PTI chief.

“Accountability of Imran Khan should be carried out as he seems to be untouchable. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif is not getting justice,” she added.

“Before going into polls, many things have to be settled. Our demand is quite clear — justice for Nawaz Sharif and accountability of Imran,” Ms Bokhari maintained.

PPP seeks applications

Meanwhile, the PPP has asked the aspirants for party tickets to submit applications along with a bank draft of Rs30,000 by March 8.

The decision was made after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari visited Lahore for two days.

He told the party leaders that PPP might go into polls without an alliance with PML-N.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s aunt Faryal Talpur has also directed the party’s divisional presidents in Punjab to submit lists of suitable candidates.

“No election alliance will be made with any political party in Punjab, therefore, only strong candidates should be fielded for the polls,” Ms Talpur said.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, PPP Lahore president Aslam Gill said his party would field strong candidates, especially in Lahore. He claimed the PPP has a pool of three ‘strong’ candidates in every constituency.

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 5th, 2023

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