Lahore: The ruling coalition partners, the PML-N and the PPP, have promised to jointly contest the July 17 bypolls in Punjab after the latter’s candidates were directed to withdraw their candidature for all 20 vacant seats.
The decision was announced at a joint press conference organized by PML-N Punjab ministers Ataullah Tarar and Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan and PPP minister Syed Hasan Murtaza at the PPP secretariat here on Wednesday.
Mortaza said his party has decided to withdraw its candidates in the bypolls in the larger national interest, but will contest against the PML-N in the next general election.
The support comes in the wake of a statement by a PPP leader a day earlier in which he criticized coalition partner PML-N for allotting portfolios to his ministers, but delayed it for PPP members of the provincial cabinet on one pretext. or other.
He was assured that the portfolios of PPP ministers would be announced soon after the provincial budget was passed.
Tarar thanked PPP president Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari for supporting the PML-N candidates in the Punjab bypolls. He said that if the father and son had not played their part in removing Imran Khan, the PML-N would not have been able to form the government in Punjab.
He further said that PPP will be taken along not only in elections but also in matters of governance.
As home minister, he announced that there would be a complete ban on the display of weapons under Section 144 of the PPC in the 20 constituencies in the province where by-elections were going to be held. Those violating the ban would be taken for action irrespective of their party affiliation, while two armed guards were being deployed for each contesting candidate or as per requirement.
Mr Khan, who is the provincial law and parliamentary affairs minister, claimed that PTI would lose in the by-elections in all 20 constituencies.
Responding to a question, he said that the economic condition of the country and the province is no longer a secret, but the ruling authorities will have to give priority to save the state and the economy. He regretted that the previous government had not implemented the duties during its last eight months in violation of the agreement it had signed with the International Monetary Fund, and instead offered subsidies that drove the economy downhill.
He criticized the PTI and the PML-Q leadership for allowing the use of the Punjab Assembly to obstruct the election for chief minister and then present the provincial budget, and declared these moves to be chaotic.
The minister said the by-polls would prove to be an expression of distrust in the politics of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Published in Dawn, June 23, 2022