LAHORE - The Punjab governments latest attempt at delaying the forthcoming bye-elections, this time through court intervention, under the pretext of bad law and order is being viewed by many as a stratagem by the PML-N for putting off local government election later this year. The local governments are completing their term on October 16 and fresh elections would be due after the said date. The PPP and the PML-Q believe that PML-N, in fact, has been seeking postponement of bye-election with the excuse of poor law and order only to avoid local elections, which it did not want to be held under the present local government system till it becomes a provincial subject after December 31, 2009. How can we conduct local government election this year if bye-polls are put off under the pretext of worsening law and order in the province, said PPP Punjab President Rana Aftab while talking to The Nation on Monday. He disagreed with Punjab governments plea that law and order situation in Punjab was not satisfactory for holding elections. The current law and order situation, he said, was much better as compared to what it was during 2008 general elections held after the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The PPP leader is of the view that if bye-elections are held successfully in Punjab, then Punjab government would lose the excuse of poor law and order, which it intends to use for delaying local elections. When contacted for Punjab Governments version, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, who is also spokesperson for Mian Nawaz Sharif, rejected the assertion by PPP that PML-N was evading bye-polls to avoid local bodies elections, saying that it was a mere supposition without any solid evidence. He said it was responsibility of federal government to hold local government election as long as it remained a federal subject. Pervaiz Rashid further said that Punjab government had credible intelligence reports that terrorists might carry out terrorist acts during election campaign, and hence it had sought their postponement to save precious lives of people. The government, he added, did not want to put lives of people at risk just to fill two national seats in the lower house When asked as to why Punjab government did not use the option of writing to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for putting off the polls, the PML-N Senator said the ECP did not bother to seek Punjab governments opinion, as was customary, prior to announcing schedule for the election. Only the provincial government can tell whether or not the environment for holding polls is conducive, he observed, adding that the government had sufficient proofs to support its claim in the court of law, as it had received reports from provincial as well as federal agencies, which suggested that terrorists could target Punjab cities in retaliation during election campaign as they recently did in Bannu and Peshawar. He also belied the impression that PML-N was avoiding election fearing possible defeat on seats vacated by its own candidates. He questioned that how could Sheikh Rashid, who got his election security confiscated in 2008 election, win from NA-55 in the bye-election. He claimed that Mian Nawaz Sharif could win his seat from NA-123 even while sitting at home without visiting his constituency. It is to be noted that though Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has held out assurance to the PML-N leaders that federal government considered local bodies a provincial subject, but in the context of latest tension between the two parties over Musharrafs trail and other issues, Nawaz League suspects that the Centre may decide to hold local government elections any time this year, something which goes against its interests in Punjab. Under this background, it should not be mind boggling for analysts to see the PML-N dragging its feet on bye-election, especially in a situation when there is greater likelihood of its winning both the national seats in Punjab, said an analyst seeking anonymity. Meanwhile, some analysts believe that PML-N is trying to delay the election through court because it is extremely perturbed over ECPs decision to allow fresh candidates to file nomination papers, a move which has diminished the chances of Mian Nawaz Sharif getting elected unopposed from Lahore. A few also think that Nawaz party was avoiding election as it did not like the idea of its chief sitting in the National Assembly as an ordinary MNA in the presence Ch Nisar Ali, who is currently calling shots in the House as Leader of the Opposition.