Opposition fails to reach consensus over fielding joint candidates in by-polls


–Raja Zafarul Haq says PPP yet to respond to PML-N’s proposal

–Farhatullah Babar confirms a little breakthrough

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have failed to reach consensus over fielding joint candidates in the upcoming by-elections and both parties are likely to field their own candidates, Pakistan Today has learned.

Sources in both opposition parties have confirmed that the talks for fielding joint candidates have failed to yield results as the proposal pitched by the PML-N appeared ‘impractical’ to the PPP leadership.

Talking to Pakistan Today, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq said that PPP is yet to respond to PML-N’s proposal of fielding joint candidates in the upcoming by-polls.

“We are awaiting their response. According to my information, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had to take a decision on Monday but we are yet to be updated on it,” he added.

Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal said that there was no likelihood of fielding joint candidates.

“There has been no contact between the two parties since we visited the PPP leaders last month. There is no likelihood of any cooperation as we do not have a common ground,” he said.

When asked to elaborate, Ahsan Iqbal said that both parties have their own strong areas.

“While PML-N is strong in Punjab, PPP is strong in Sindh which means that practically, the idea of fielding joint candidates would not work,” he said.

When contacted, PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik also denied a breakthrough in talks between the two parties.

“Frankly, I do not see a breakthrough,” he said.

PPP senior leader Farhatullah Babar confirmed a little breakthrough.

“In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), PPP has decided to withdraw in favour of those candidates whose relatives were martyred in terrorist attacks. So we are supporting Haroon Bilour’s widow and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominee in Dera Ismail Khan. Moreover, we will also support candidates of other opposition parties whose candidates were runners-up in general elections, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Awami National Party (ANP),” he said. Babar said that in Punjab, no PPP candidate was a runner-up in the general polls.

“However, a PML-N delegation had visited Nayyar Bukhari to seek his support for its candidate for Islamabad so we have decided to support them,” he added.

It merits mention here that in mid-August, a PML-N delegation had approached PPP with a proposal to field joint candidates in October 14 by-polls.

The decision was symbolic in nature and a part of an effort to forge unity among the opposition parties.

While a consensus could not be reached for fielding joint candidates in by-polls, both parties decided to field joint candidates in Senate by-polls.