PML-N struggling to beat impression it’s ‘afraid of snap polls’

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LAHORE: The PML-N’s insistence that it wants to save the Punjab Assembly “at any cost” seems to have given political circles the impression that the party is “running away” from elections in Punjab.

To avoid giving the impression that it is complying with Imran Khan’s demands, the party maintains that it is making the decision in the best interest of the nation and not on the whims of an individual or a party.

In the event that Punjab Chief Minister Ch­a­udhry Parvez Elahi dissolves the assembly on the request of Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, well-wishers within the party have reportedly advised the Sharifs to alter their narrative of “saving Punjab Assembly at any cost” and adopt a more confident tone.

These discussions within the party follow claims made by the PTI chairman and members of his party that the PDM parties, particularly the PML-N, are afraid to run in even a by-poll because they fear a “loss” because their popularity has dropped dramatically since April.

On Wednesday, a PML-N insider told Dawn that some close aides to the Sharif family have asked the party to avoid the “apologetic” narrative, which the insider said implied the party was trying to avoid provincial elections.

“This makes it sound like we are backing the account of Imran Khan that the PML-N fears going to surveys in light of his as far as anyone knows rising prominence.We are in charge of Punjab, not the Center.Why ought we to oppose the PA’s dissolution?

Instead, “we should dare Imran to dissolve the assembly after which we will form a government here — this should be our narrative,” according to an insider who was quoted as having told the Sharif family about it.

Dawn, on the other hand, was informed by PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari that the party wanted to save the assemblies for constitutional, economic, and law and order reasons.

“The nation can’t be run on the desires of Imran Khan.Elections are held based on agreement among all political parties, not on a single person’s wish.She asserted, “Nowhere in the world can one party force others to call elections.”

According to the MPA, the Constitution stipulated that assemblies should serve out their terms.

Additionally, holding elections in distinct assemblies is impossible.Additionally, the ECP has announced April local body elections in Punjab.

Ms. Bokhari went on to say that the economic situation in Pakistan, the situation after the flood, and the TTP’s breaking of the ceasefire with the government were other pressing issues that made the environment unfavorable for elections.

It is pertinent to mention that Haroon Shinwari, the election commission’s spokesperson, was fired for issuing a statement regarding the holding of elections in 60 days in the event that the Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved “without directions from the higher authorities.”The commission then announced that local body elections would be held in Punjab in April.

This is seen by observers as a preemptive move in anticipation of the PTI’s potential dissolution of the Punjab and KP assemblies. They also mentioned that the election body could claim that it would be impossible for it to hold two elections simultaneously—one for local bodies and one for Punjab.

However, senior leader Pervaiz Rashid of the PML-N dispelled the notion that the party was evading the polls.

We are fully prepared to challenge the PTI in Punjab and defeat them, but we do not want billions of rupees wasted twice. If Punjab and KP go to the polls in March, national, Balochistan, and Sindh assembly elections will take place six months later, costing billions of rupees twice. We value the country’s economic situation more than party politics, so every penny will be spent on the rehabilitation of flood-affected families.

The close aide to Nawaz Sharif and former senator added that Mr. Khan’s popularity was nothing more than a myth.

During the month-long march from Lahore to Rawalpindi, people observed his popularity graph.Mr. Rashid made the remark that “he is not interested in dissolving the Punjab and KP assemblies… he wants to maintain political instability and create problems for the government.” He added that when the people of Punjab go to vote, they will compare Shehbaz Sharif’s performance as chief minister to that of Usman Buzdar, who is with the PTI.

In the meantime, a PML-N legislator who is close to Hamza Shehbaz informed Dawn that the party was not prepared to hold elections in Punjab or anywhere else prior to Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan.

He remarked, “Let Nawaz come back, and then we won’t mind taking up Imran Khan’s challenge.”

The former Punjab rulers, the PML-N, have been discussing using all “available tactics” to foil the PTI’s plan to dissolve the two provincial assemblies since the former premier Khan decided to dissolve the two provincial assemblies in addition to submitting resignations from the Sindh and Balochistan legislatures.

Hamza Shehbaz, leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, has emerged from his “hibernation” and has pledged to “save the PA” through a variety of available options, including a no-trust action against CM Elahi, the imposition of governor’s rule, the governor requesting a vote of confidence from the CM, and requesting the apex court to take up Hamza’s review petition on its decision in the Punjab CM election.

In addition, the PML-N and PPP have agreed to get in touch with PTI lawmakers who are “disgruntled” in order to thwart the ruling party’s plan to dissolve the PA.

On Tuesday, as well, former PPP president Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met to talk about ways to avoid a possible political crisis in the province.

According to a Punjabi party leader who spoke with Dawn, “PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif should tell his younger brother and nephew to adopt a more daring approach and respond to Khan’s challenge in a political way instead of talking like a dictator about governor’s rule.”

He questioned what was preventing the PML-N from holding elections in the Punjab and KP assemblies, where his party had governments if Mr. Khan was taking his chances.

“Holding elections in Punjab and KP provides the PML-N and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) with the opportunity to form their governments, particularly in Punjab, while retaining power at the center.“The Sharifs, especially PM Shehbaz and the opposition leader in Punjab, should come forward, look Mr. Khan in the eye, and take him up on his challenge of provincial polls,” the party leader suggested. The leader added that the PML-N maintaining its “apologetic” narrative would demonstrate that its popularity had completely eroded in Punjab and that it might require some assurance (for securing a victory) from the establishment before going to the polls.

He went on to say, “I will request the Sharif brothers to revisit their strategy and throw an open challenge to Mr Khan to dissolve the Punjab Assembly and start preparations to snatch the province from the PTI through elections,” noting that Punjab was the Sharifs’ stronghold.

Source: Dawn News

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