ISLAMABAD - The ruling PML-N Thursday dared rival PTI to enter the electoral battlefield and fight it out, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided against challenging the election tribunals’ decisions that sent some treasury lawmakers home.
“We will sort this out in the middle. We are not seeking stay orders against the ETs decisions. We will be happy if Imran Khan contests against Sardar Ayaz Sadiq,” Information Minister Pervez Rashid said after a meeting here.
The meeting, chaired by PM Sharif, showed optimism that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz will beat Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in by-elections.
Pervez Rashid, flanked by federal minister Ahsan Iqbal, said the party would seek legal remedies “to keep the record straight.” He announced Sardar Ayaz Sadiq would be party candidate from NA-122.
To a question, Rashid said counsel of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was out of the country and an appeal would be filed in the Supreme Court, against the ET verdict, but no stay order would be sought.
He said the party has decided to go to the court of the people against verdicts of ETs in the National Assembly seats of NA-122, NA-154 and PP 147.
“We’ll teach Imran Khan a lesson in both constituencies”, the information minister said adding Ayaz Sadiq and co-contestant Mohsin Latif will remain PML-N candidates from the NA 122 and PP 147 constituencies respectively.
As the top PML-N leaders decided to go for the kill, PM Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif took to the Twitter to back her party.
“We are of the people, for the people, by the people. Not the ‘umpire & ungli (finger)’ lot, hence going back to public, our true strength & rock,” she tweeted.
“A thumping majority in PML-N decides in favour of going back to our people. Well done PML-N,” she tweeted further. She continued, “Hiding behind technicalities is easy, fighting in the battlefield is not .....”
Maryam added, “IK (Imran Khan) losing to Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq in NA-122 Insha’Allah (God willing) for a third time will be real HAT-TRICK! See you in the battlefield :)” “Don’t wriggle out of elections now .... See you at polls, folks !! ????,” she quipped.
Rashid invited Imran Khan to contest by-elections against Sardar Ayaz Sadiq from NA-122 Lahore. Similarly, he said, Jehangir Tareen should contest by-elections from NA-154 against Siddique Baloch.
However, he mocked, “Imran and Jehangir Tareen are looking to escape the contest.” He said PML-N has defeated PTI in all by-elections, including the recently held in Haripur, and it would defeat PTI in the coming by-elections as well.
Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said PML-N would get even more votes in by-elections than it secured in the general elections. “By hurling threats of sit-ins, Imran is trying to spoil the congenial atmosphere and joys of the people. Lets contest elections and see who wins.”
He said PTI’s complaint about ECP members is merely an excuse to run away from elections. “Why can’t same election commission hold other elections if it can organize LG elections in KP,” he asked.
PTI lawmaker Ali Mohammed Khan told The Nation the hat-trick of victories for the PTI proves the party was not bluffing when it argued the 2013 polls were rigged. “Imran Khan had no hat-trick as a cricketer but as a politician, he has got one. I am surprised Pervez Rashid is claiming victory even before the by-elections. He should wait,” Khan said. “Pervez Rashid is suffering from Imran Khan phobia,” he added.
The PTI legislator asserted that “truth will prevail” and the “PML-N will be defeated in the by-elections. The people will vote for us… Pervez Rashid can predict defeat margins but I can only expect the people to vote for us. We are the ones who want to build a new Pakistan.”
Sources said the talks with the MQM were also discussed during the meeting and PM was positive the resignation issue will be solved. “The PM has accepted their genuine demands and the government is hoping to conclude this matter as soon as possible,” a PML-N leader who attended the meeting said.
MQM lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi told The Nation that talks with government have been encouraging. “We believe the Grievances Redressal Committee approved by the PM will be helpful. This committee has to be powerful. We are ready to return if our demands are met,” he indicated.
“The talks had been postponed due to the ET’s decision against the PML-N. The meeting between the government and the MQM will be held soon to finalise the agreement,” Abidi said. He insisted his party only wanted rights for the people of Karachi. “We didn’t demand anything for ourselves. MQM’s demands are genuine and now everybody including the PPP is supporting us.”