PM IK to stay engaged with parliamentary works

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(Khalid Sibtain)

Islamabad,   (Parliament Times) :  Prime Minister Imran Khan himself has decided to spend the coming three days in parliament where he would hold meetings with disgruntled members of the ruling party and coalition partners in order to address their grievances and garner support.

Sources privy to the development told the news agency  that Premier Imran would start holding meetings with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNAs from today (Monday). “Due to frequent meetings with lawmakers, the weekly cabinet meeting [on Tuesday] is likely to be postponed,” the sources said, adding that all focus is on the Islamabad seat where a tough contest is expected between PTI candidate Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Pakistan Democratic Movement’s Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“The PM would hold meetings with members of South Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and other provinces who have expressed their reservations over the choice of the candidates,” the sources added.

Following the reports of horse-trading, not only the prime minister, but the PTI leaders and the federal ministers have also become stepped up the pace arranging dinner and luncheon programmes in honour of the lawmakers.

In a surprising development, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) remained absent from the PTI’s luncheon organised for party and coalition members in Karachi on Sunday. The MQM-P reportedly missed the programme following their meeting with the PPP leaders who visited the party’s Bahadurabad office on Saturday and offered two seats — one general and one woman’s — from Sindh Assembly seeking support for Gilani in Islamabad. The MQM, however, sought time to discuss this matter with the party’s coordination committee.

Regarding its absence from the PTI’s luncheon that was organised at the house of PTI leader Moulvi Mahmood, the MQM leaders clarified that they were busy with other party activities which was why they could not attend the event.

“All parties are involved in preparations for the Senate elections on their own,” the party spokesperson said, adding that they were also involved in similar activities and therefore could not attend the event. “We are in constant touch with the PTI and GDA and there is no misunderstanding between us,” the statement issued from MQM head office said.

The PTI luncheon was attended by Federal Minister Asad Umar, Saifullah Niazi, the chief organiser of PTI, Ali Zaidi, and other leaders of the party along with MPAs and MNAs of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) led by Pir Pagara who are coalition partners of the federal government.

Sources said that Imran has sent his team led by Asad Umar to Karachi to have meetings with the MQM and GDA leaders in order to resolve their issues. “Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has also held meetings with Pir Pagara and the MQM members,” the sources said, adding that another meeting between the GDA, MQM and PTI leaders is also expected in Karachi over the Senate elections.

Federal Minister Umar and Saifullah Niazi while speaking to the media persons said Sheikh would win the Senate seat. “There are dissenting voices in the PTI because of its democratic norms and everyone has the right to express their views. It’s not a league in which a worker is expelled from the party for disagreeing with Nawaz Sharif,” Umar said, adding that he had met the members about whom it was being said that they would not vote. “All members are ready to vote,” he said, dispelling the impression of division in the party.

He said that in the current situation, our candidates – Sheikh and Fauzia Arshad – would be successful.

Zaidi while speaking to reporters said that the opposition is scared that the PTI would win. “The opposition is accustomed to the politics of Changa Manga. We are an alliance; therefore, we have to give a message that we are all one and will continue to be one,” he said.

On the other hand, Pir Pagara also held a separate meeting with his party MPAs and MNAs and visited his party MPA Sardar Ali Gohar Khan Mahar who has been inactive in the party following his differences with Pir Pagara over Ghotki by election and other issues.

Speaking to the media, Pagara said that his party candidate and other coalition partners, including the PTI and MQM, would win the forthcoming Senate election from Sindh and other provinces too. “The rulers here in Sindh are corrupt due to which the province suffers from bad governance. We have to get rid of the PPP government and should support the PTI and other coalition partners,” he said.

The Sources said PPP’s Gilani who happens to be a close relative of Pir Pagra has also approached the latter seeking support for the Islamabad seat, but no official statement or any word has been issued from both on the matter.

The PPP has been striving to get more seats from Sindh where polls would be held for 11 seats. There are a total of 168 MPAs in the Sindh Assembly of which 99 belong to the ruling PPP.

As per the PPP’s strength, it could win six seats while the other five could go to the joint opposition. But the PPP has been eyeing to bag six to seven seats, giving a tough time to the PTI candidates.

Taking notice of Sindh Governor Ismail’s meeting with the PTI leaders and coalition lawmakers over the Senate polls, the PPP registered a complaint with the chief election commissioner (CEC) for taking action.

“It’s an illegal act because the president of Pakistan and governors of the provinces are not supposed to take part in the Senate election campaign in any manner whatsoever and shall not use their respective offices as well as houses in connection therewith,” PPP leader Taj Haider, who is the election in-charge of the party, in a letter addressed to the CEC, said.