LAHORE – The PML-N will contest the by-election on the vacant seats of the legislators now defected to the PTI. The PML-N will not provide open field to the rival parties although it will continue struggle for early election which the party seeks pleading that the government has failed to deliver on all counts and its further stay in power is nothing but a means to further deteriorate economic, social, political and security situation in the country, said a senior party source.

With the defection of politicians from six major political parties to the PTI, some 10 seats of the parliament stand vacant. The sitting parliamentarians who turned to Imran Khan’s camp include stalwarts like Makhdoom Javed Hashmi of PML-N, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi of PPP, Sardar Awais Khan Leghari of PML-Q, Jahangir Tareen of PML-F, Senator Sardar Jamal Khan Laghari of PML-Q, Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali of PPP, Memona Hashmi of PML-N, PML-N MPA Shahid Mahmood, Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti of ANP and Senator Azam Swati of JUI-F. Technically speaking they have lost their membership in the parliament under the defection law envisaged by Article 63(d) of the Constitution. Excluding Awais Leghari who was elected in the by-election in Dera Ghazi Khazi on the vacant seat of his father Farooq Ahmad Leghari, is exemption from tendering resignation for vacating the seat unlike the rest ones. More legislators are expected to change loyalties for the PTI in future.

The PML-N source says the party will field its candidates in the by-election not to let show any weakness of the party after one of its main leaders has left. Still nothing has been announced by the Election Commission to hold the by-election which under the Constitution has to be held within 60 days of the vacancy of the NA or PA seat and a month of the Senate seat. Therefore, election may be held by February last near the triennial Senate election and given the current uncertainty about the continuation of the government, the possibility of a changed picture on political landscape cannot by ruled out by that time.

The PML-N is fighting for early election for which it also holds the card of quitting the National Assembly and the government in Punjab. The source in the party confides that the option of resigning the assembly is on the table but not for immediate use. He says tendering of resignations would be an ultimate option to achieve the end of early elections. He says a careless use of this option would mean casting an impression to other provinces, where the PML-N rival parties are ruling that Punjab is bullying them and also paving way for any other party to name its Opposition Leader which could also be from the PML-Q. Not that but the effect of prematurely giving resignations can go as far as general election when remaining parties in the House would be in a position to pick up a caretaker set of choice. As such the time is not ripe for using the option of resignations however the Party will not let the field open for other parties in the by-elections, he adds.

PML-N Spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid told this scribe that the party will fight on every front from by-election to struggle against the government which is tainted with bad governance and corruption. He dispelled the impression that the PML-N has lost direction about its efforts, and said the party was confronting the government on every issue like momogate, corruption, poverty, bad governance, security and frail economic condition at the relevant forum which amply shows it was alive to the situation and was steadily nearing the target. He advocated for early election asserting that any further time to the government would mean further deterioration at the hand of the PPP-led government.

Senior leader of the Party Ahsan Iqbal said that the party strongly believes in democracy and constitutional means as such it has resorted to the public to tell them what the government is doing and how important is for the people to get rid of it. He was confident that public pressure would force the government to early election and Gujranwala rally would be a step to that way. To question whether the army has assured of not taking any step to derail the democratic process and after that what for the antagonistic stance of the party against the Establishment, he said the party had tremendous respect and regard for the army and the establishment stands apart while the latter a threat. To a question about defection of Javed Hashmi to PTI, he said that Hashmi decision is more damage to his political legacy than to the PML-N.