‘Troubled’ PTI divides MPs in groups for Senate by-poll voting


–Aleem Khan says all ruling party lawmakers united, any claims regarding blocs within PTI are mere rumours

–Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman says PTI victim of ‘internal disruption’, claims its parliamentarians in contact with PML-N

LAHORE: With the Senate by-polls on two vacant seats in the Punjab Assembly due on Thursday (November 15), the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has come up with a new strategy of dividing its lawmakers into different groups to ensure all of them vote for the party-fielded candidates, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, PTI is struggling to bag the vacant seats – a general seat and a reserved seat for women – following the recent rift between Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, which surfaced in a leaked video on Saturday.

Sources were of the view that most of the members from Punjab Assembly belonging to PTI were complaining because they were being ignored in party meetings and decision-making sessions, which had led to the unseen rift in the party.

They said that besides being ignored by the party leadership, there were various other reasons owing to which PTI in Punjab was dividing into groups and each faction was trying to be the primary one by challenging party decisions.

“Moreover, the recent alliance between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for the by-polls has hit PTI hard as the Imran Khan-led party was hopeful of being supported by the PPP’s Punjab lawmakers.”

“Some hasty decisions of the government have affected its popularity among its own parliamentarians and it is also the reason behind its defeat in the by-elections on vacant National Assembly seats,” they said.

Sources added that despite being the largest party to emerge in the July 25 general elections, PTI was fearing internal rifts.

“The ruling PTI has 180 seats in the Punjab Assembly and has the support of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) 10 lawmakers besides 4 independent candidates and one of the Rah-e-Haq Party while PML-N has 167 seats and only the support of PPP’s 7 parliamentarians in the provincial assembly.”

They said if the apparent tally remains the same, PTI would have no problems in bagging the seats previously won by PML-N but the chances were bleak as some of the ruling party’s disgruntled MPs might vote for the rival party.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, senior PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan said that all of PTI’s parliamentarians were united.

“All claims regarding any blocs within the party are mere rumours. Our candidates for Senate by-polls are already in a winning position because we have the majority in the house and Prime Minister Imran Khan has also passed on necessary directions in this regard,” he said and added that they were making the groups and teams on divisional levels only to ensure that all PTI lawmakers cast their votes.

PML-N leader Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, on the other hand, said PTI was a victim of internal disruption.

“Their [PTI’s] lawmakers are already in contact with us and we are hopeful to win the Senate by-polls,” he said, adding that the decisions of the incumbent government had left both the masses and its own MPAs distraught.

It is worth mentioning here that PTI has nominated Waleed Iqbal and Seemi Aizdi as their Senate candidates whereas Saira Afzal and Saud Majeed have been nominated for the upper house seats by the PML-N.

The seats had fallen vacant following the disqualification of PML-N’s Saadia Abbasi and Haroon Akhtar for having dual nationality.