ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party needs to learn a lesson from the defeat in Punjab Local Governments elections sooner than later to perform better in the next phases, senior leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said yesterday.

Kaira-backed PPP candidates won 13 seats in his hometown Lalamusa – the only good news for the party in Punjab as it was thrashed in other parts in the first phase of the LG polls.

The PPP ended up with 48 seats in the first phase in Punjab lagging far behind the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the independents and the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf.

The local polls, first in 10 years, were held on Saturday last in the 12 Punjab districts including Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Chakwal, Bhakkar, Nankana Sahib, Kasur, Pakpattan, Okara, Lodhran, Vehari and Bahawalnagar and eight districts of Sindh including Sukkur, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Kashmore, Ghotki, Larkana, Shahdadkot and Jacobabad. The PPP led the way in Sindh.

The second and third phases of LG polls are due on November 19 and December 5 respectively. The election in Islamabad Capital Territory is scheduled for November 30.

Polling for LGs will be held in Khanewal, Sahiwal, Toba Tek Singh, Chiniot, Sargodha, Mianwali, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Attock and Jhelum in the second phase on November 19 (the second phase).

The elections in Sindh will be held in Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Tando Mohammed Khan, Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Shaheed Benazirabad, Naushehra, Feroz, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparker in the next phase.

Kaira said the success in Lalamusa was a result of their hard-work and dedication. “It means we are not out. A little hard-work can improve things for us,” he told The Nation.

The senior PPP leader said that elections in the first phase were held in PML-N strongholds so there was still hope to do better in the upcoming phases.

“The PPP Punjab people must learn lessons. They must know what went wrong. The second phase is coming so we should forget the first one and get working for the second,” he emphasised.

He rejected the impression that PPP Punjab leaders led by Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo were responsible for the party’s poor performance. “Wattoo is not the sole reason. He joined us in difficult times and has been doing his bit.

We are down in Punjab and it happens in the history of the bigger parties. We will make a comeback,” he maintained.

Kaira said he hoped the PPP people will work harder for a better performance in the upcoming phases, adding the situation should improve for good.

Asked if he was a candidate to replace Wattoo as the PPP Punjab President, he said, “It is for the party to decide. I don’t know if they have anything in the mind (to change PPP Punjab President).”

The PPP leader said changes will be made keeping in view the 2018 general elections. “Obviously that is the target. For now we will be concentrating on the next phases of the LG polls,” he said.

Earlier, Wattoo said the LG polls results indicated the PPP was capable of staging a comeback in the Punjab.

He claimed a large number of independent candidates won in the province with the PPP support. “We had made arrangements with the independents. Other parties did not go for seat arrangements,” he added.

The PPP has been for long considering to bring changes in Punjab to revive the party that has lost its ground in the most populous and influential province.

During Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s time, Punjab used to be the stronghold of the PPP but the party slowly lost its grip giving away to the PML-N and others.

In the last general elections, the PPP won just eight Punjab Assembly seats and three for the National assembly from the province.