Nawaz Sharif On His Party’s Defeat In Punjab Bypolls
New Delhi: Former Pakistan prime inister Nawaz Sharif has said that “difficult decisions” taken by the government to secure an IMF deal have led to the drubbing of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the crucial Punjab assembly by-polls, a media report said on Monday.
Ousted premier Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Sunday won 16 out of the 20 seats in the Punjab assembly by-polls, in a major setback to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif whose son Hamza Shehbaz is all set to lose his post as chief minister.
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The election for the chief minister will be held on July 22 on the Supreme Court’s order and PTI-PML-Q joint candidate Chaudhary Parvez Elahi is likely to be the new chief minister of the politically crucial province Punjab.
Ahead of Sunday’s elections, the ruling PML-N-led coalition needed at least 11 seats out of the 20 that went to polls to achieve the magic 186-member majority in the assembly for Hamza to survive as the chief minister.
The joint candidate of PTI-PML-Q Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, who required 13 members to oust Hamza, is now in a comfortable position to form a government.
The Punjab Assembly currently stands at 369 members: the PTI has 178 lawmakers and its ally PML-Q 10. The PML-N has 167 members while its coalition partners PPP seven, six independents and one Rah-i-Haq Party.
Three-time premier Nawaz, who has been living in London for ‘medical treatment’ since 2019, contacted his younger brother Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and directed them to call an emergency meeting of the party to discuss the future course of action in the context of the results of by-elections, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
According to party sources, the PML-N supremo said that the party has suffered due to “difficult decisions”, referring to mammoth hikes in prices of petroleum products and electricity tariffs among others to secure a deal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the cash-strapped country.
The IMF has set tough preconditions such as hiking electricity tariffs and imposing a levy on petroleum products to revive the stalled bailout programme.
On Jun 22, Pakistan secured a deal with the IMF to restore the stalled USD 6 billion assistance package and unlock doors for financing from other international sources.
The incumbent government which took power in April has constantly been hiking petrol prices.
Nawaz, the three-time former prime minister who is entangled in a number of corruption cases, has been in London since November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for medical treatment.
He was also given bail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving seven-year imprisonment in Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail.
Nawaz’s passport expired in February this year and the previous Imran Khan-led government refused to renew his passport.