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LAHORE: Just four days to go before by-elections in Punjab, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday geared up its campaign in the provincial capital.

The PTI senior leaders including former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri, and former federal information minister Fawad Chaudhary also joined the by-election campaign in Lahore to build the momentum.

In his press conference, Fawad Chaudhry said that fresh general elections were the only solution to the prevailing crisis in the country. He said that the country was ready for a ‘revolution’ and warned the government of things becoming ‘very different’ if obstacles are made in the path of the revolution. “The party seeks to bring a revolution via the power of the vote,” he added.

He alleged that the party’s candidates and workers were being harassed by police, who he claimed were acting on the directives of the provincial government. He also expressed concerns over the reports about expected rigging in the upcoming by-polls in Punjab. He claimed that Hamza Shehbaz would not be the Punjab Chief Minister after July 22.”

“The PTI has approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the disqualification of 19 candidates who were de-seated for defection. It was hoped that the petition would be taken up in a few days,” he added.

Meanwhile, PTI senior leader Pervez Khattak held a meeting with PTI local leaders including Shaukat Ali Bhatti, Abbas Bhatti, Ejaz Minhas and Barrister Mansoor Sarwar to discuss by-elections and the current political situation in the country.

While addressing the meeting, Khattak said that July 17 will be the day of change in the country as the PTI will win by-elections and thus form a government in Punjab. “The people have decided to side with the PTI, and we will fight the government’s intention of rigging the by-elections,” he added.

Moreover, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser took part in the campaign in constituency PP-167 and he was joined by other local PTI leaders.

While addressing an ongoing training of polling agents in a PTI election office, Qaiser said that on the instructions of PTI Chairman Imran Khan he has come to Lahore to take part in the by-election campaign. He was confident that the PTI would win all the seats if the by-elections were transparent. He said that the PTI Chairman was fighting for real freedom.

He blamed the politicians with vested interest for stopping Pakistan from progressing and accused the PML-N of using foul tactics to influence the by-elections.

Moreover, accompanied by PTI Central Information Secretary Andleeb Abbas, former deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri visited constituency PP-167 in connection with the door-to-door campaign. At Township Main Bazaar, he met local people and shopkeepers and distributed party pamphlets. On this occasion, the business community announced its full support for the PTI candidate.

Later, the former deputy speaker in a press conference said that the PML-N’s rule and politics will end on July 17 and the administration will miserably fail in rigging the by-elections. “The rulers were playing foul politics by registering false cases against our leaders and rigging the by-elections,” he added.

He claimed that the present government has made no law for the poor and alleged that the N-League was an enemy of the people. He lambasted the ruling parties for abandoning electronic voting machines and said that the government knows that it cannot win the by-elections without rigging. “By amending the NAB law, the government has given a cover to its looted wealth worth Rs 1100 billion,” he added.

“The people of Lahore should stand against the thieves who came into power through ‘operation regime change’,” he added.

Meanwhile, in constituency PP-158, PTI Central Punjab President Dr Yasmin Rashid along with the PTI Candidate, Mian Muhammad Akram Usman, visited Churbuji Stop and Dharampura and talked to the locals for their support.

On the occasion, she conveyed the message of PTI Chairman PTI Imran Khan that the people should come out of their homes on July 17 and cast their votes against the ‘looters’. “The illegitimate rulers have multiplied the problems of the people instead of reducing them,” she added.

While addressing a joint press conference, PTI Central Punjab President said that the Sunni Ittehad Chairman Syed Hamid speaks in their support because the PTI is talking about peace and development of the country.

She was confident that they will get 20 seats in Punjab. “The Chief Election Commissioner should give us assurance that the by-elections will be free and transparent while the local administration should stay within their jurisdictions,” she added. She also hoped that all institutions would remain neutral.

On the occasion, Sunni Ittehad Chairman Syed Hamid condemned the police highhandedness in PTI candidate Malik Jawad Awan’s constituency last night. He also alleged that the present Punjab Home Minister, who was from his constituency, has the full support of the banned parties. He assured the PTI of their support.

Later, the PTI held public meetings in constituencies PP-158, PP-167 and PP-170, which were addressed by Asad Qaiser, Qasim Suri, Fawad Chaudhary, former Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahood, former federal minister Ali Muhammad Khan, Senator Ijaz Chaudhry, Deputy Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Aslam Iqbal, and PTI candidates Akram Usman (PP-158), Shabbir Gujjar (PP-167) and Zaheer Abbas Khokar (PP-170).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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