PPP, PML-N to jointly contest by-polls on 20 seats in Punjab

Zardari, Hamza agree to strengthen working relationship between two political parties

In a major political development, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have decided to jointly contest by-polls on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly that fell vacant after the de-notification of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislators over defection.

The understanding was reached during a meeting between former president and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz in Lahore.

The two leaders also decided to strengthen the working relationship between the two political parties in a bid to give a tough time to the PTI.

“The leadership of both sides not only decided to strengthen their working relationship but also agreed to jointly contest the upcoming by-elections,” said sources privy to the development.

The development took place at the Bilawal House where the former president, who is once again in Lahore on an important mission, invited PML-N’s leader Hamza and hosted a lunch in his honour. Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz accepted the invitation and led a delegation to the said venue.

The sources added that Hamza gave a positive response to the former president, saying: “They [the PML-N and the PPP] are united to serve the public.” He also vowed to continue consultations to boost the working relationship in the future as well.

“The unity between the PML-N and the PPP is for the sake of the public,” Hamza was quoted as saying.

The sources went on to say that the two sides also exchanged views on a power-sharing formula.

They said that Hamza did not clearly say anything about the speakership of Chaudhary Parvez Elahi and asked the PPP co-chairman to give him more time to consult the party leaders.

“A matter related to a notification about the ‘special assistant to the Punjab CM’ also came under discussion,” said the sources.

Zardari and Hamza also held consultations on the upcoming budget. Both sides decided to give relief to the public.

Ata Tarar, Malik Muhammad Ahmed Ali, Khawaja Salman Rafique and Imran Goraya were part of the PML-N’s delegation at the meeting, while Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sharjeel Memon, Dr Asim Hussain, Ali Haider Gilani and Hassan Murtaza were also present.

Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that the by-polls on the 20 vacant seats of the Punjab Assembly would be held on July 17.

The by-polls would be held in 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 and PP-288.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at fidahassanain@gmail.com.