As the opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), seemingly disintegrating, the differences among the component parties have been growing with the People’s Party (PPP) and the Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) emerging as main rivals.

The by-election to National Assembly constituency NA 249 has brought the rift between the two to the fore yet again. The Awami National Party (ANP), despite parting ways with the PDM the other day, announced support for PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail.

Party’s Sindh general secretary Younas Bunariee told the media that the ANP had decided to withdraw its candidate Haji Aurangzeb Khan in favour of Miftah.

Similarly, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) also withdrew its candidate Umar Sadiq.

However, the recent spat between the parties in the election of opposition leader in the Senate seems to be lingering on because the PPP is reluctant to withdraw its candidate Abdul Qadir Mandokhel in favour of PML-N candidate.

Last month, PML-N senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Karachi to seek his party’s support for by-election. It is learnt that he did not give any “positive” response.

On Wednesday, Bilawal met the PPP’s District West leaders, including MNA Abdul Qadir Patel, district president Liaquat Askani, secretary-general Ali Ahmed Jan and candidate Mandokhel and discussed the by-elections.

After the meeting, Sindh secretary general Waqar Mehdi had formally handed over the party’s ticket to Mandokhel.

Waqar said on the occasion that the District West has been the PPP’s stronghold and the voters have always supported the party because of the development it carried out in the district.

To add to the PML-N woes, there are two candidates in the constituency who cannot be written off. They are the ruling PTI’s Amjad Afridi and Pak Sarzamin Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal.

Although the NA 249 was the PTI’s constituency since 2018, the present contest is between the PPP and the PML-N.

Meanwhile, Federal Communications Minister Murad Saeed demanded a level playing field for all political parties in the NA 249 by-election. His comments came after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided to prevent him from taking part in the election campaign of PTI candidate.

Saeed had announced to participate in the election campaign from Friday.

The ECP on Wednesday barred federal ministers Murad Saeed and Shaheryar Afridi from participating in electioneering.

District Returning Officer (DRO) Nadeem Haider telephoned PTI candidate Amjad Afridi and asked him to refrain from inviting federal ministers in his political campaign.

Polling in the constituency will be held on April 29. The NA 249 had fallen vacant after PTI’s Faisal Vawda resigned from the National Assembly. During the 2018 general elections he defeated PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif by a very thin margin.

The writer is a member of staff
The reporting desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk

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