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Thursday April 25, 2024

By-elections on NA seats: PDM yet to reach consensus on joint candidates

By Nisar Mahmood
February 08, 2023

PESHAWAR: The ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is yet to reach a consensus to field joint candidates for the by-elections on National Assembly (NA) seats scheduled for March 16 as February 8 (today) is the last date for the submission of the nomination papers.

Although Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) provincial president Amir Muqam has announced that his party would contest the polls, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman has suggested that the ruling alliance should stay away from the by-elections on the seats vacated by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) are also not clear about the situation, though candidates from different political parties are submitting their nomination papers.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced the schedule for by-polls on the NA seats in two phases.

The election in the eight constituencies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, NA-4 Swat, NA-17 Haripur, NA-18 Swabi, NA-25 Nowshera, NA-26 Nowshera, NA-32 Kohat, NA-38 DI Khan and NA-43 Khyber will be held on March 16 for which the last date for nomination papers is February 8.

In the second phase, by-polls will be held on March 19 on the 16 more vacant constituencies including NA-3 Swat, NA-5 Upper Dir, NA-6 and NA-7 Lower Dir, NA-8 Malakand, NA-9 Buner, NA-16 Abbottabad, NA-19 Swabi, NA-20 Mardan, NA-23 Charsadda, NA-30 Peshawar, NA-34 Karak, NA-40 Bajaur, NA-42 Mohmand and NA-44 Khyber.

The submission of nomination papers for the March 19 by-polls will start from February 10 and the last date is 14 while the final list of candidates will be displayed on March 2.

All these seats fell vacant after the PTI MNA resigned from the National Assembly.

Interestingly, the mainstream politicians from the PDM component parties are not taking interest in the by-election and the ruling alliance might stay away from the contest if Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s suggestion is considered.

However, the PTI will contest the polls at all costs to retain its seats and return to the National Assembly in a bid to have a say in the formation of caretaker government for the next general election.

The PDM’s lack of interest in evolving a consensus on joint candidates is manifestation of the fact the alliance was least bothered about contesting the by-polls.

However, there are chances that the PDM component parties may support independent candidates or field second-tier leaders to minimize the winning chances of the PTI candidates and not to leave the field open for them.

On the other hand, former prime minister Imran Khan has changed his policy of contesting on all seats and now it is being considered to field those who had resigned from the respective seats as allotting tickets to newcomers may create rifts within the party.

Political observers believed that the PTI had been trapped by resigning from the National Assembly and dissolving the provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab as these acts failed to bring about the desired results.

The PTI has lost power in the two provinces particularly in KP where the party had two/thirds majority and was in a position to influence the coming general election.

Generally, it is believed that the PTI may not get any big achievement even if it retained all the NA seats while winning two/thirds majority in the provincial assembly again would be very difficult if the PDM reached a consensus on seat adjustment.

It remains to be seen whether or not elections for the provincial assembly would be conducted as the polls could be delayed in view of the worsening law and order in the aftermath of the suicide blast at the police lines in Peshawar.