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March 2, 2021

PTI bracing for upheavals in Sindh Senate polls

National

March 2, 2021

KARACHI: The PTI Sindh is bracing for upheavals in tomorrow’s Senate elections as at least six of its MPs are unlikely to cast votes for the party’s candidates in the elections for the Upper House.

According to a PTI insider, three more MPAs, including a lawmaker elected on a minority seat, are not in contact with the PTI leadership and in all likelihood will announce not to vote for the party’s candidates. Besides, three PTI MPAs, including Karim Bux Gabol, Shahryar Khan Shar and Aslam Abro, have announced that they would not cast votes for the PTI candidates in the Senate election. Alarmed over the developments, the PTI has directed all its MPs to assemble at a local hotel by Tuesday from where they would be taken together to cast vote in the Sindh Assembly to avoid any ‘poaching of its votes’ .

Earlier on Monday, three PTI MPAs announced that they would not cast vote along the party lines in the Upper House of the Parliament, amid accusations from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that the Pakistan People's Party was pressurising its MPAs to change loyalties in the Senate polls. Only two days ahead of the Senate polls, the PTI leaders, including former opposition leaders in Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and Karachi president Khurram Sher Zaman, announced that three of their party MPAs were abducted on Sunday evening and alleged that the PPP-led provincial government was pressurising the three “missing MPAs” to change loyalties in the Senate polls. However, in their video statements, the PTI’s MPAs, Karim Bux Gabol, Shahryar Khan Shar and Aslam Abro, on Monday while denying reports of abductions, announced that they would not cast votes for PTI Senate candidates. Furthermore, they criticized the PTI’s central leadership for awarding tickets to Senate candidates in exchange of money. Gabol, who is the PTI’s MPA from Karachi’s District East, said that he cannot support such candidates who have "purchased" the ticket. “I am a PTI worker and will remain with the party, but cannot vote for its candidates in Senate elections because the party has given the ticket to candidates in exchange of money," Gabol said in a video message available with The News. He also criticised the PTI-led federal government for its “stepmotherly treatment” to Sindh and said that the party had failed to deliver in accordance with the expectations of the people.

Shar, a PTI MPA from Ghotki, alleged that the party gave tickets for the Senate elections to candidates from Sindh without consulting the MPAs. Shar had already supported the PPP’s resolution in October against the presidential ordinance that paved way for the federal government to take over the provincial islands. “I raised the problems of Sindh in front of the prime minister and the governor but they paid no attention," Shar said. "They [PTI government] do not have any programme for Sindh."

Shar announced that he and others would not vote for the candidates selected by the prime minister. Abro, another PTI MPA from Jacobabad district, also announced against voting for the PTI candidates in Senate polls.

Meanwhile, a PTI leader disclosed to The News that three more MPAs, including a lawmaker elected on a minority seat, will also announce not to vote for the party’s candidates. Announcing the new development, Naqvi and Sherzaman in a press conference said that three more party’s MPAs are not in touch with them and their phones remained switched off.

Naqvi and Sherzaman alleged that PPP is using pressure tactics through the Sindh Police including registration of baseless cases, against the PTI MPAs to force them to vote for the PPP’s candidates in the province. Naqvi alleged that Gabol gave the video statement under severe pressure. “On Sunday, I talked to Gabol who assured me that he stands with the party candidates in the Senate poll. If one follows Gabol’s previous statements, he had always criticised the PPP for bad governance and corruption, holding it responsible for the destruction of the province,” said Naqvi. He said that three PTI MPAs, including Gabol, have been missing since Sunday evening and warned that if something happened to them, the Sindh government will be held responsible for it.

He demanded the Election Commision of Pakistan to take action against horse-trading of the PPP in Sindh province for the Senate polls.

Naqvi said that the combined opposition in Sindh has only fielded five candidates – three on general seats, one technocrat, and one for the women's seat in view of its collective strength of 65 in the provincial assembly. Combined opposition in Sindh comprises the PTI, MQM-P and GDA. “We proved our goodwill in Sindh by not fielding a single candidate more than the number of seats we have. Those with bad intentions have fielded additional candidates,” he said. PTI Karachi President Khurram Sherzaman said that police had also registered a baseless case against MPA Raja Azhar and pressurised him to switch loyalties in the Senate polls. He said that a case has also been registered against the party's district Korangi president and other workers.

Sherzaman said that the manipulation of the Senate polls started with the arrest of Leader of the Opposition Haleem Adil Sheikh. “Since then, the PTI members are being intimidated and threatened on a regular basis,” he charged.