Local JUI-F leadership wants PPP to withdraw from Lyari by-polls

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The District South chapter of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) wants to contest the coming NA-246 by-election in Lyari against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, and has asked the central leadership of the party to convince the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to withdraw its candidate Nabil Gabol in favour of JUI-F’s Maulana Noorul Haq.

The ruling coalition in the federal government has decided to field joint candidates in the coming by-elections from the parties who were runner-up in the respective constituencies in the last general elections.

However, the runner-up in Lyari NA constituency in the 2018 polls was the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which is not part of the coalition in the federal government. The third position, however, had gone to the Pakistan Peoples Party, due to which it was being expected that the political parties in the federal government would support the PPP in the NA-246 by-election scheduled for September 25.

Currently, both the PPP and JUI-F have fielded their candidates for the Lyari constituency. Although an understanding has been reached between the federal allies to support the PPP in NA-246, the local JUI-F leadership is unhappy over it and wants to contest the by-election even if the PPP does not withdraw.

In the 2018 general elections, JUI-F’s Haq contested from Lyari from the platform of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan (MMA), an alliance of politico-religious parties. He bagged 33,220 votes securing the fourth position, but in one of the Sindh Assembly constituencies in Lyari, PS-108, MMA candidate Syed Abdul Rasheed won the election after polling 16,821 votes. However, he belongs to the Jamaat-e-Islami, another party in the MMA that has dissociated itself from the JUI-F politics.

Interestingly, the PPP could not win any provincial assembly seat from Lyari either despite the fact that the locality has traditionally been considered a political bastion of the party in Karachi.

Due to the fact that one of the provincial seats of Lyari was won by the MMA in the last general elections, the local JUI-F leadership wants the PPP candidate to withdraw in its favour. “We are in a position to bag more votes than the PPP in the NA-246 by-poll. In 2018, the PPP had lost both the National Assembly and Sindh Assembly seats from Lyari but it was an MMA candidate who won one provincial assembly seat,” said Haq.

He added that the District South Shura (advisory body) of the JUI-F has informed the top leadership of the party of its intention to contest the by-poll. “We expect that the party leadership would convince the PPP to withdraw its candidate in favour of the JUI-F. Our provincial leadership has already directed the party workers to accelerate electioneering in the constituency,” he said.

“Our allies have to understand that only the JUI-F candidate can give hard time to Imran Khan. The PPP candidate, Nabil Gabol, seems a poor choice of the party as PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was spotted on the third position in the 2018 general elections from the same constituency.”

On whether the PPP would withdraw in favour of Haq, JUI-F Sindh spokesperson Maulana Samiul Haq Swati told The News that it was premature to comment on the issue. He said the JUI-F leadership would sit with the PPP to decide the future course of action.

He maintained that the JUI-F central leadership wanted to keep the ruling alliance united. However, he confirmed that the party had issued the party ticket to Haq for the NA-246 by-election.

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