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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Why PML-N needed its ministers to resign ahead of Punjab by-polls

Provincial law and finance ministers Malik Ahmad Khan and Sardar Awais Leghari resigned on Tuesday, citing ‘personal reasons.’

With PTI laying the foundation for PML-N’s loss in the coming by-polls, Malik Muhamad Ahmad Khan has turned into the most recent minister of the ruling PML-N in Punjab to resign to contribute all energies to the political race, given the party’s handling of the country’s economic crisis.

According to the PML-N, both ministers resigned as they had to participate in the by-poll campaign of the party-backed candidates.

Earlier on Saturday, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Punjab Minister Salman Rafique resigned to oversee the party campaign in PA-158, Lahore.

After the resignation of three Punjab ministers, Hamza’s cabinet has shrunk to five members, including two from the ally Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The PPP had announced its support for the PML-N. But, it did not follow suit, although two of its ministers, Hasan Murtaza, and Ali Haider Gilani, were from Jhang and Multan, where by-elections will be held for three out of the 20 Punjab Assembly seats on Sunday.

Read more: PTI seeks ECP to bar 16 defectors from contesting Punjab by-polls

According to Dawn, “the PML-N believes Mr Leghari, former finance minister, could prove very effective in the election campaign in his hometown Dera Ghazi Khan, where the by-poll will be held for PP-288 seat. However, questions are being raised over the reason for Malik Ahmad Khan, who is from Kasur district, resignation.”

“The PML-N is backing 20 Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) dissidents who had voted for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son Hamza in the election of the chief minister in April. The Election Commission had subsequently deseated them on defection. Most of the PML-N ticket holders and loyal activists of these 20 constituencies are not happy with the leadership for awarding tickets to the ‘turncoats,’ thus making the position of such candidates weak.”

In a standoff with PTI chief Imran Khan, who is holding massive rallies across the province, PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz began her rally spree on Monday.

Doing a rally in Jhang on Tuesday, Maryam slammed Imran Khan and his party for destroying the country, moving the weight of economic disappointments onto the past government.

While addressing a rally in Layyah, Maryam once again garnered mockery on social media for her latest slip of the tongue when she confused districts and tehsils.

She urged the public to vote for PML-N as they would be voting for better governance, schools, and overall development besides creating new tehsils. Then with full gusto vowed that Layyah would become a tehsil – which is already a district.

PML-N workers standing on the stage with her pointed out the mistake, and Maryam Nawaz corrected herself, saying Chowk Azam would become a tehsil. However, netizens on social media were quick to criticise Maryam Nawaz for her blunder.

The recent resignations ahead of the July 17 by-polls indicate a mounting strain on the party as PTI’s clean sweep and a humiliating electoral rebuke would mean a change in the provincial government and a possible catastrophe for the central government.

Read more: ‘Yes, PMLN’s generations will serve Pakistan’, Maryam Nawaz

Even though PML-N partakes in a numerical benefit over PTI, it cannot take a risk with anything.

As of now, PML-N has around 176 votes, while PTI has 172 votes (barring the vote of Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari) in Punjab Assembly. For PML-N to accomplish a basic majority, 10 seats are required, and for the majority, just 9 seats are required.

Despite these hindrances, Imran Khan was holding enormous by-poll rallies in Punjab, which, regardless of how everything worked out on the final voting day, was coming down on PML-N.

It was said ministers were leaving to avoid any possible infringement of the rules of these elections. His staff official said Sardar Awais would likewise be checking out issues of south Punjab. He said that Ayaz Sadiq and Khawaja Salman would concentrate in central Punjab.

PML-N, in each by-election rally, promised a subsidy on power after winning the elections. The endowment, announced a couple of days back by CM Punjab, was suspended by ECP as it was declared ahead of the by-polls.

Read more: PML-N fails to copy PTI’s door-to-door campaign?

The Supreme Court has already announced the re-election of the Punjab chief minister on July 22.