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PTI pins its hopes on independents to become largest party in Punjab

PTI pins its hopes on independents to become largest party in Punjab

LAHORE: As the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has lost the cantonment boards election in Punjab to its main rival -- the opposition PML-N -- the ruling party is banking on independent winners to become the largest party in the province.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has yet to formally announce the results of the cantonment boards’ wards in Punjab.

However, according to Punjab government spokesperson Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, the PML-N bagged 48 wards, PTI 31, independents 30 and Jamaat-i-Islami two wards in the 20 cantonments of Punjab.

The PML-N has disputed the PTI’s claim, saying it got 51 seats, followed by independent candidates’ 32 and the PTI’s 28.

PML-N in ‘high spirits’ after routing ruling party in Cantt boards poll

The PPP has failed to win even a single ward in the province.

In Lahore, Multan, Rawapindi and Wah cantonments the PTI was routed as it could only manage to grab a few wards.

In a talk with Dawn on Monday, Mr Chohan admitted there were some issues in awarding the ruling party’s tickets, resulting in some of the party workers contesting as independent candidates and winning in the polls.

“Of the 30 winning independents, more than half will join us, making the PTI the largest party in the province,” Chohan hoped and added the party would also try to figure out its weaknesses that resulted in its defeat in Punjab.

However, many PTI leaders are finding solace in the argument that it has emerged as a national party having presence in every province.

Federal minister Asad Umar said in a tweet: “Cantonment elections once again show PTI not only as the largest party but also the only national party. PTI won either highest or second highest seats in every province. PMLN 0 in Balochistan, 5th in Sindh. PPP 0 in Punjab & Balochistan, 3rd in KP. PM IK only national leader.”

On the other hand, the PML-N is in a jubilant mood.

“Winning the cantonment [boards] polls in Punjab with almost a double margin than the PTI, has lifted our spirits. And it has established that the PML-N is a reality and is the largest party in Punjab. Whenever free and fair elections are held, PML-N will win,” the party’s Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari told Dawn.

“If there is no interference in elections, the PML-N is certain to win cantonment, local bodies or general elections in Punjab. The cantonment polls results have once again established that the PML-N’s mandate, especially in Punjab, was stolen in 2018 general elections,” she said and added that Imran Khan should now read the writing on the wall.

The PTI candidates could not face the masses after making the people’s lives miserable through unprecedented price hike, inflation, unemployment etc.

“The PTI should think that if this is the situation for it in cantonments, what will happen to it in other parts of the country,” the PML-N lawmaker said, adding that the PTI Punjab leader Senator Ijaz Chaudhry was admonished by Imran Khan for his party’s poor performance.

A PTI leader, however, confessed while speaking to that the cantonment results were a “reality check” in Punjab for the party. “We will have to take immediate steps to control ‘mehngai’ (price hike and inflation) if the PTI fancies any chances to win in the province in the next general elections,” he said and advised the premier to focus his energies on providing relief to the masses or be ready to face their wrath.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2021

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