PTI chief to contest for 33 NA seats in by-polls


Qureshi fears delay in Punjab, KP polls

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is eyeing to make history as the ex-prime minister will run for 33 seats in the upcoming National Assembly by-elections, set to take place on March 16.

The PTI chief will become the first person in the country to turn for more nearly three dozen seats after his party’s core committee decided to field him as its candidate for the polls — which will take place across the country.

In a press conference on Sunday after the party’s core committee in Lahore, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “Imran Khan will be PTI’s candidate for all constituencies that [are up for grabs].”

The move will likely pile up pressure on the ruling coalition as if the PTI chief successfully wins a majority of the seats, it might dent the government’s popularity and give the Khan-led party an edge in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections — expected to take place in the next three months. The NA seats had fallen vacant earlier this month when NA Speaker Raja Parvez Ashraf accepted the resignations of PTI lawmakers and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid.

The PTI resigned en masse in April last year after the ouster of Khan as the prime minister, but only 11 resignations were accepted in July. Later, as the party tried to stage a comeback to the house, the speaker began accepting their resignations — and in a couple of days, he accepted 113 more, including the 33. In October last year, the former prime minister also set a record when he won six NA seats for the PTI in a by-election that was seen as a direct contest between the former ruling party and the current ruling coalition of the PDM parties, which also grabbed two seats.

“PTI will remain on the political ground and seek the help of the masses. When the people got a chance in July last year, despite our opponents being in government, they ensured our mandate and [made] Imran Khan victorious,” Qureshi said.

“The nation will give a clear message on March 16: the nation completely trusts in the leadership of Imran Khan and it stands with the PTI. The people will also voice their reservations against the group that’s been imposed on us,” he added.

Voicing concerns over the “delay” in Punjab and KP elections, the PTI vice chairman said that the governors of both provinces would be defying the Constitution if they do not issue a date for the polls. “The Constitution does not permit for an hour’s delay and we won’t stand it. The elections should be ensured within 90 days in line with the Constitution,” he said.

The former foreign minister said that the ruling coalition in the centre is “afraid” of holding elections in both provinces. “Political engineering is being done through the National Assembly by-elections.” diesel at Rs262.80, kerosene oil at Rs189.83 and light diesel at Rs187.