ISLAMABAD - The disintegrated Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan could hardly field a one-third of candidates for July 25 polls in Punjab as compared to the 2013 elections.

The Sindh-based party has never been a strong player in Punjab even before splitting into different factions including Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP) MQM (London) but always run a political campaign during elections.

The party, having two dozen seats in the previous National Assembly, had confidently fielded nearly 50 candidates for the 2013general election, but this time around, it has fielded 15 candidates across Punjab for the upcoming elections.

The downfall of the party mainly started after the controversial remarks of former party’s supremo Altaf Hussain. Soon after the controversial speech of Hussain last year, MQM members immediately distanced themselves from the party chief and formed a party by adding word Pakistan in the MQM.

In the meanwhile, the PSP led by former MQM senior member Mustafa Kamal emerged and many MQM-P members switched loyalties and joined his party.

The third largest party in the previous National Assembly, the MQM also suffered certain bans on its organizational setup as, party offices throughout the country, were sealed after the controversial speech of Hussain.

When contacted, MQM-P’s Punjab member Muhammad Kashif said that the party has fielded a one-third of candidates in Punjab this time around as compared to the 2013 general election.

“Some old candidates like Chaudhary Sarwar Gujar are contesting for seats of the National Assembly from Punjab,” he said.

The MQM-P candidates are mainly contesting from Nankana Sahib, Sialkot, Bhurewala, Khanewal, Vehari and some other areas of Punjab.

MQM-P’s former MNA Ali Raza Abidi said that his party was even facing different challenges in its stronghold areas in Sindh. “What to talk about fielding strong candidates in Punjab, the MQM-P candidates are facing difficulties in its campaign in Sindh especially in Karachi,” Abidi said.

He also commented that the party should not leave the ground empty for its opponents in the polls and it has fielded its contenders in different areas of the country besides in the Sindh province.

Political pundits believe that the position of the MQM-P candidates, especially in Punjab, was too weak and they could hardly win a seat.

They say that the purpose of fielding candidates, despite having a precarious position, was to keep alive a modicum of recognition the party has in different parts of the country. The MQM-P’s lackluster campaigning for its candidates in Punjab is palpably visible to all and sundry.