Shah says fact-finding committee will submit its report to Bilawal next month
After its abysmal performance in the recent by-elections in Punjab, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has decided to investigate into the persistent decline in the party’s vote bank.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah told the media on Wednesday that a fact-finding committee comprising senior PPP leaders has been constituted which will submit its report to the party’s chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, next month.
The PPP had fielded candidates for all three by-elections conducted on October 11: for NA-144 and NA-122 and for a Punjab Assembly constituency, PP-147.
Independent candidate Chaudhry Riazul Haq won NA-144 (Okara-II) with 85,714 votes. PPP’s Chaudhry Sajjadul Hassan could secure only 4,225 votes, trailing at number five.
PPP’s performance in NA-122 (Lahore-V) was worse: its candidate managed to get only 819 votes against PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq, who was victorious with 74,525 votes.
In PP-147 (Lahore-XI), PPP’s performance was not any better: only 756 votes were cast in favour of the party’s Iftikhar Shahid, while Shoaib Siddiqui of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf prevailed with 31,964 votes.
In its initial response to the poor performance, the PPP claimed that its supporters were ‘terrorised’ to vote for the party’s candidates.
A PPP delegation visited the Election Commission of Pakistan earlier this week for “recording their concerns on deliberate targeting of the party’s supporters during the election campaigns”.
However, now the party has constituted a committee to dig out the facts behind its declining popularity graph ahead of the local government elections in Sindh and Punjab. PPP leaders Sherry Rehman, Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Akhunzada Chattan are among the members of the panel.
According to Khursheed Shah, after receiving the committee’s report Bilawal would come up with a new strategy to ensure the party does well in the upcoming LG polls. “He will unveil a new course of action for the party during his speech on November 30.”
Shah also slammed remarks of some ministers on the issue of Kalabagh Dam. “The issue was settled back in 1998 when the government of [Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif had shelved the idea after backlash from three provinces.”
Before his press talk, Shah had chaired a meeting of PPP’s Fata chapter on the reforms proposed by the party for the lawless areas bordering Afghanistan.
Farhatullah Babar said PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari had written to Nawaz, seeking the government’s help in passing a proposed constitutional amendment to extend the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the high court to Fata.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2015.