Home Articles The Election Scenario of By Elections on July 17

The Election Scenario of By Elections on July 17

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Muhammad Arif : Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that the by-polls on the 20 vacant seats of Punjab Assembly will be held on July 17.

The nomination papers for the candidates were accepted from June 4 to 7, and will be scrutinised on June 11..

The by-polls will be held on PP-7, PP-83, PP-90, PP-97, PP-125, PP-127, PP-140, PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170, PP-202, PP-217, PP-224, PP-228, PP-237, PP-272, PP-273, PP-282 Layyah and PP-288.

On May 20, the election supervisor had de-seated 25 MPAs of the PTI for defying party directives and voting for HamzaShehbaz for the post of the Punjab chief minister.

The reference against the dissident lawmakers sent by Punjab Assembly Speaker PervaizElahi was accepted by the election watchdog for violating Article 63-A which pertains to defection.

The much-awaited verdict had gained political weightage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s verdict on a presidential reference, seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A, related to the disqualification of lawmakers over defection.

The upcoming by-elections for 20 seats in the Punjab provincial assembly have gained immense significance in the context of the ongoing battle between the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan’s military establishment.

For the PTI, which was ousted from power in April this year, the Punjab by-elections present the first major opportunity for it to test the efficacy of its anti-establishment narrative. For months, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has belligerently targeted the country’s military leadership for its alleged role in orchestrating a no-confidence vote against his government in the parliament. To this end, Khan’s party has run a brutal media campaign to not only defame the military’s leadership but also undermine the ruling coalition and its support base.

Khan has been very effective in propagating the narrative that the security establishment colluded with local politicians and foreign powers to topple his government. This is the same narrative that Khan’s candidates have taken to voters in their campaigns in the upcoming by-elections. The impact of PTI’s anti-military campaign has been such that it seems that the PTI has a good chance of winning a majority of the seats.

Khan has been depicting the upcoming electoral bout in Punjab as a fight between good (his party) and evil (everyone else). For instance, in constituencies in Lahore, where elections are being held, PTI flyers say that voting represents a “choice between two ideologies” and a “struggle for real independence. “To preempt rigging, the PTI is preparing for all sorts of scenarios.

The PTI has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to allot “lota” as a symbol to the PML-N and PPP candidates as they have formed an electoral alliance for the upcoming by-elections on the 20 vacant seats in Punjab. PTI leader FawadChaudhry, in a letter to the ECP, informed the body that Pakistan is going through a “multi-dimensional crisis due to a foreign conspiracy”.

The former information minister told the commission that the parties that have formed the coalition government at the Centre fought the 2018 polls as rivals and are ideologically different.

“This alliance started with the no-confidence motion presented against the PTI government on March 8, 2022, when history’s worst horse-trading took place at the Sindh House,” said Fawad.

He added that his party back then had asked the ECP to take notice of the matter. The PTI leader further said that “selling of conscience, horse-trading and floor crossing” that began at the National Assembly eventually reached Punjab, adding that in the Punjab Assembly, 20 lawmakers came forward who had gone against the law and Constitution and surrendered their conscience to wealth.

“As a result, the ECP declared their seats vacant and ordered by-polls in the constituencies,” said Fawad, adding that the PPP, PML-N and other parties that promoted horse-trading announced forming an electoral alliance for the by-polls via a press conference on June 22.

“Therefore, all these parties should be given a uniform electoral symbol and not separate ones. In such a situation, it is our opinion that they should be given the lota as a symbol,” said Fawad.

He added that the PTI believes that the allotment of the symbol would help the public determine who to vote for and also claimed that it would have a positive impact on voter turnout as well. PPP to support PML-N in upcoming Punjab Assembly by-polls.The PTI wrote the letter after PPP, a day earlier, announced that the party would support PML-N’s candidates who will take part in the upcoming by-elections on the 20 vacant seats of the Punjab Assembly.

The seats had fallen vacant after the ECP had unseated PTI’s dissident lawmakers for voting against party policy. The polling will take place on July 17, as per the ECP schedule that was issued on May 26.  Meanwhile, the nomination papers for the by-elections can be submitted from June 4 to 7 and this will be followed by the returning officers carrying out scrutiny of the nomination papers till June 11. However, the appeals against the returning officers’ decisions can be filed till June 15.

“In view of the country’s interest, the PPP has decided to support the PML-N’s candidate for all the 20 vacant seats,” PPP provincial minister Hassan Murtaza said while addressing a joint press conference flanked by PML-N’s AttaullahTarar and Malik Ahmad Khan. Both the parties, however, will remain political rivals during the next general elections, clarified the PPP’s leader.

However there is chance that PML N may win the by elections in majority.