by SAMIULLAH RANDHAWA/HASSAAN AHMED
“Sharif’s era will be ended on Sept 17”: IK
NA-120 by-poll can prove to be revival of PPP in Lhr, say supporters
LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) looked on helplessly as the three main contenders of the NA-120 by-polls in Lahore held public rallies within the constituency on Thursday, in violation of the code of conduct issued by the election watchdog.
In a letter to the Punjab government, the ECP directed authorities to ensure that no political conventions or processions are held in the constituency on September 14 ─ three days ahead of the by-election. The ECP also sent letters to the Punjab chief secretary and the inspector general of police asking them to ensure the implementation of the code of conduct.
However, despite ECP’s notice, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) held conventions, corner meetings and rallies in the constituency.
The PML-N organised a women’s convention at Aiwan-e-Iqbal near Mall Road, besides holding corner meetings in the constituency. The event at Aiwan-e-Iqbal was addressed by Maryam Nawaz.
PTI BRINGS FIREWORKS TO CHARING CROSS
Although the PTI claimed that its “Karo Faisla Tabdeeli Ka” rally – scheduled to be taken out from Charing Cross to Data Darbar under the leadership of Imran Khan – was not a violation of ECP’s rules, the route of the rally fell within the NA-120 constituency.
PTI’s rally was scheduled to start from Charing Cross at Mall Road at 5 pm. However, it faced a delay of around three hours as the participants of the rally had been waiting for Imran Khan to lead the rally.
After extensive fireworks to commence the rally at Charing Cross, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, while leading a procession towards Datta Darbar, said that PTI will emerge victorious on Sunday in the NA-120 by-poll. His speech was preceded by a short address by NA-120 candidate Yasmin Rashid, who said: “People should come out to vote for Imran Khan who has the vision to give a bright future to their children”.
Talking about the by-election, the party chief said: “NA-120 will be the harbinger of change”.
“A match will be played [today] in Gaddafi stadium between Pakistan and World XI while other will be played in NA-120 on Sunday where Dr Yasmin Rashid will defeat the opponents,” he said. PTI’s candidate is contesting against corrupts and those who looted the wealth of Pakistanis, he added.
“The 30-year reign of corruption of the Sharif family will come to an end on Sunday and we will win the match”, he said, adding that the nation will defeat the corruption mafia and a “new Lahore would emerge after Sunday”. Sharif’s era will end on Sept 17, he said.
The PTI chief also criticised PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz for “disrespecting the judiciary on a daily basis”.
During the rally at Charing Cross, Imran instructed the DJ to play the audio of Maryam Nawaz in which she claimed that she had no property in Pakistan or abroad. Imran said that now, since it has been proven that Maryam owns property abroad, she must explain how it became possible.
The rally was accompanied by dozens of vehicles, comprising PTI supporters and workers at Regal Chowk, Anarkali Chowk, Secretariat and a group at Data Darbar.
JIYALAS EXPECTING SUFFICIENT VOTES FOR PPP
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) also flexed its muscles in NA-120 as the party held a large public meeting at Temple Road near Mozang, in which central and provincial leadership of PPP also participated.
Although, the popularity of PPP could not be seen as being on par with that of PTI and PML-N in the constituency, the workers and jiyalas of PPP think that the NA-120 by-election can prove to be, to some extent, the revival of PPP in Lahore, which was once the stronghold of Bhutto.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Mussarrat Siddiqui, an old jiyala who is associated with the PPP for more than three decades, said that the workers of PPP have started participating in the activities of the party after a long time, which is a good omen for its revival in the Punjab. “Our party was wiped out from here and definitely it would take much time to fully revive PPP in Punjab. Frankly speaking, I am not expecting more than 15,000 votes for PPP in NA-120 and it would be a great achievement for us, considering that this is the same party that hardly secured 3000 votes in the election of 2013 from here,” Siddiqui said, who is a resident of Bedon Road, Lahore. The Punjab government did not provide us ample security for our public meetings and therefore party’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto could not visit the constituency because of the security threats that the leadership of PPP is facing, he added.
Muhammad Sadiq, a rickshaw driver and a lover of Bhutto since 1978, said that he does not see any other option except to cast his vote for PPP because he thinks that PPP is the only party in the country that has pro-poor policies. “Bhutto was the leader who used to think for the betterment of poor people; therefore, PPP has become a part of my faith,” Sadiq said, who lives in Mozang. We were made aware by Bhutto to never vote for a businessman who has a capitalist mindset and never thinks for the poor, he added.
Napolean Qayyum, a minority leader of the PPP said that the party can secure reasonable votes in the by-election because of the support of minority people. “There are 23 union councils in NA-120 and every UC has one thousand minority votes on average. We have tried hard to win over these nearly 25 thousand votes that can be decisive for the election result,” Napolean said. According to him, PPP is the only party that devises its policies for the minorities and Bilawal has also said that he wishes to see a non-Muslim as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The party songs of PPP continued throughout the public meeting that was also addressed by PPP’s Punjab President Qamar Zaman Qaira, Lahore President Aziz-ur-Rehman Chann, Chaudhry Aslam Gill, Samina Khalid Ghurki, Chaudhry Manzoor Gill and former chairman Senate Nayyar Hussain Bukhari.