By Zia Ur Rehman
April 9, 2015
Although the leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is insisting the party is not withdrawing its candidate in favour of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the upcoming by-elections in NA-246, both parties will soon reach a consensus to support each other’s candidates in the by-polls in Karachi and Lower Dir, The News has learnt.
The PTI has been trying to persuade the JI to withdraw its candidate Rashid Nasim from the NA-246 contest in favour of its candidate, Imran Ismail. “The JI’s support could help in saving anti-Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) votes from splitting in the constituency,” a PTI leader said on Wednesday.
But the JI Karachi leadership is not ready to accept it and maintains that it has a solid support base and organisational set-up in the constituency and has secured significant votes in the past elections.
“We know that the PTI cannot find even polling agents for polling stations in the constituency,” said a JI leader in Karachi. “We have been competing with the MQM from the beginning and we have experiences of elections in such constituencies.”
Both parties have announced public gatherings in the constituency, in which their chiefs, Imran Khan and Sirajul Haq, will participate.
However, the JI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa leadership is worried about a by-election in PK-95 (Lower Dir), a seat vacated by JI chief Haq following his victory in the Senate polls. The by-election in PK-95 is scheduled to be held on May 7, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Local observers believe that the PTI is fielding its candidate against the JI for PK-95 by-elections, which could divide the vote of the ruling parties and help the rival candidate of the Awami National Party (ANP) to win the seat.
PK-95 is important for the JI as Haq has vacated it. “If the PTI did not withdraw its candidate in favour of the JI, the ANP candidate could win easily, which would be a setback for the JI’s politics in the Dir region, their stronghold in the country,” said Aziz Buneri, a Peshawar-based journalist.
Any rifts between the PTI and the JI before the by-elections could also encourage opposition parties, especially the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and their Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), to chalk out a strategy to jointly support the ANP, he said.
At central level, the PTI has placed a condition for supporting the JI for the PK-95 polls that Nasim would withdraw in favour of Ismail in NA-246, insiders in both parities told The News.
A JI KP leader confirmed it and said they had asked the central leadership to intervene in the matter and persuade the Karachi leadership to support the PTI candidate. “The PTI has supported us in the Senate elections by sending the party chief to the upper house of parliament. Karachi leadership’s concerns are genuine, but in the long term, the alliance with the PTI would help in national politics,” he told The News, requesting anonymity.
In case of a worsening relationship with the PTI, the Jamaat-e-Islami in KP could take a solo flight in the upcoming local bodies and face the worst defeat at the hands of the tripartite alliance the ANP, the PPP and the JUI-F has formed for the next local bodies elections in the province, analysts say.