By Kiran Bokhari
Major surprise for the party of Sharifs as it’s stronghold Punjab is snatched. Poor Hamza Shehbaz could last as Punjab chief minister for over two months.
He must be crying and looking for excuses must be wondering as how ousted premier Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Sunday made a ‘clean sweep’ in the crucial Punjab assembly by-polls.
Hamza’s father Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif must be upset for seeing his son losing the CM post.
Maryam Nawaz would also be wailing for losing so shamefully in the by polls in Punjab.
Nawaz Sharif sitting in London would be blaming his younger brother Shehbaz for ruining his party and invoking people’s ire for raising petroleum prices and making the lives of the people miserable.
The election for the chief minister will be held on July 22 on the Supreme Court’s order and PTI-PMLQ joint candidate Chaudhary Parvez Elahi is likely to the new chief minister of politically crucial province Punjab.
Me Abdul Khaliq.— عبدالخالق 🇵🇰Abdul Khaliq (@AbdulKhaliq828) July 16, 2022
My vote goes to kaptaan. He is the man with honor.
With no any corruption case.
He always speaks for the citizens of Pakistan.
A loyal leader. @WarriorsOfPak #پنجاب_بلے_دا#پنجاب_تحریک_انصاف_کا pic.twitter.com/WoG4P1YaKH
I am a proud Pakistani.— روح_من❤️ (@roh_e_man) July 17, 2022
And I am standing with my leader IK.
The leader who has courage to do something for the Pakistan.
And my vote is only for Kaptaan.#پنجاب_تحریک_انصاف_کا#بلا_چلاؤ_ملک_بچاؤ pic.twitter.com/HK89gloysM
Me Rukhsana Qadir,— Rukhsana Qadir (@RukhsarQadir1) July 16, 2022
My vote and support only for one man.
The man who stand with his nation.
A man who is honest.
A man wo think about poor people.
A man who is respectful.
This man is imran Khan. @WarriorsOfPak #پنجاب_تحریک_انصاف_کا pic.twitter.com/bUD6zPYFOr
According to unofficial results so far, the PTI has secured victory on 16 seats while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) just three. An independent candidate has also won.
The ruling PML-N of the Sharifs has accepted its defeat and even congratulation PTI Chairman Khan for ‘landslide victory’ in the by-polls.
“We respect the mandate of the people. Now we ask the PTI-PMLQ to form the government in Punjab,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson Malik Ahmad Khan told Press Trust of India.
To a question whether Prime Minister Shehbaz would dissolve the National Assembly to call early general elections, he said: “The PML-N leadership will decide about it in consultation with its allies.”
PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz also accepted her party’s defeat. “We should accept our defeat with an open heart,” the daughter of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif said in a tweet.
She said that in politics, victory and defeat is a part of the game. “We will see our weakness and remove them,” she said.
“Tehreek-e-Insaf is winning at least 15 seats. But it is very important for all our people on duty at all polling stations not to leave their place until the official results are obtained from the returning officers,” Khan said in a tweet.
His party’s senior leader Asad Umar said Khan would announce the party strategy after a meeting of the core committee on Monday.
He said now the PML-N is left with only one option and that is “immediately calling for fresh general elections.”
Earlier on Sunday, the by-polls on 20 assembly seats of Punjab were held in relatively a peaceful manner amid scattered incidents of violence. A heavy contingent of police was deployed in five ‘sensitive’ constituencies of Lahore and Multan.
A couple of political workers were injured in Lahore during a clash between the PML-N and PTI supporters. A violent clash was reported between the two arch-rivals in Muzaffargarh (some 350 kms from Lahore) too. Turnout in most constituencies reportedly remained low.
According to Punjab police, they arrested 15 persons near different polling stations for indulging in violence and carrying arms. The police have also arrested PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s close aide Shahbaz Gill from Muzaffargarh for keeping armed guards.
Khan strongly condemned Gill’s arrest and alleged that the PML-N-led Punjab government had “brazenly violated the Supreme Court’s” verdict by resorting to rigging.
“Today Punjab government has brazenly violated SC orders [and] election rules by openly using all government and state machinery to rig Punjab elections through illegal ballot stamping [and] harassing voters while arresting PTI leaders,” he said.
He also accused the Election Commission of turning a blind eye and said “courts must open now [and] act.”
This contest was seen as a matter of ‘life and death’ for both major competitors who practically have their political futures in the province on the line.
As the opposition PTI managed to won majority seats, it is going to dethrone Hamza as the Punjab chief minister, which the Sharifs, especially Hamza’s father Prime Minister Shehbaz, cannot afford, as it could restrict the junior Sharif’s rule to the Centre only.
Khan’s victory could trigger a new political crisis in Pakistan as Prime Minister Shehbaz’s rule would be reduced to Islamabad and his government has yet to get a final approval of its financial life line from the International Monetary Fund.
The PML-N had hinted that if it loses the Punjab chief ministership to PTI, it may leave the federal government too. For the PTI, today’s by-polls mean a lot more than defeating the Sharifs and Zardaris.
Khan and his companions had painted the contest as “a fight between good (his party) and evil (the ruling coalitions in the Centre and Punjab)” and a matter of the country’s sovereignty in the face of alleged foreign (US) meddling in its affairs. PAK DESTINY