Sunday, September 30, 2012

PML-N's appeasement to sectarian outfits continues

PML-N's policy of appeasement toward sectarian outfits is well known. PML-N's top leader Shahbaz Sharif even extended this appeasement to the Pakistani Talibans, imploring them to spare Punjab (see here and also Ayesha Siddiqa's comments on this controversy). In the past, PML-N's Rana Sanaullah Khan, Punjab's Law Minister, also made a public appearance with a leader of one sectarian outfit in an election rally (see below image). However, this kind of public appearance or the elections deal that the following story speaks of is beyond just a policy of appeasement. 

The below story was later removed from the Express Tribune's website.

Election season: PML-N, ASWJ reach consensus
By Abdul Manan
Published: September 30, 2012

Opposition party will give the go-ahead to ASWJ to contest the election for three NA seats.

LAHORE:A covert understanding between the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ) is said to have reached a consensus on seat adjustments in the Punjab and National Assembly in the upcoming general elections, well placed sources told The Express Tribune.

According to the sources, PML-N’s Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan met with ASWJ chief Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi to discuss the seat adjustments, particularly in South Punjab.

ASWJ, which formerly operated as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, has a strong vote bank in many constituencies of Punjab, particularly in South Punjab, which forced the PML-N’s think tank to strike a deal with it over seat adjustments.

According to the deal, the PML-N will give the go-ahead to ASWJ to contest the election for three NA seats with the PML-N’s support, while in exchange the ASWJ will withdraw its candidates from contesting around 12 NA seats across Punjab whose votes often play a vital role in helping candidates win.

The sources also said that the head of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishaq, who recently joined the ASWJ, could possibly be one of the candidates fielded by the ASWJ to contest the election for any NA seat that could be vacated in South Punjab.

However they added that if Malik Ishaq was not allowed to contest the election, then his son Malik Usman will be fielded as a candidate for either the provincial assembly or the NA.
Expected seat adjustments

Sources said the PML-N will not field its candidate from the NA-89 constituency of Jhang as Ludhyanvi will contest that seat, which is currently occupied by PML-Q’s Sheikh Waqar Akram. It will not field its candidate for the NA-184 constituency which will be contested by ASWJ’s Rao Javeed. Currently PPP’s Khadija Aamir Yar Malik occupies the seat.

In exchange, in Bahawalpur division, ASWJ will support PML-N’s Mian Imtiaz from the NA-196 constituency which is occupied by Javed Iqbal Warraich of the PPP. ASWJ will not field a candidate for the NA-186 constituency, which will be contested by PML-N’s Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who recently switched allegiances from the PML-Q. ASWJ will also try its best to convince Maulana Moeen Wattoo to let MNA Mian Khadim Hussain contest the NA-188 constituency.

Sources said that if PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti decides to contest the NA-177 constituency, then ASWJ might field Malik Ishaq or his son Malik Usman for the seat. ASWJ will support PML-N’s candidate for the NA-156 constituency. ASWJ will also support PML-N candidates for all seats of Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Gujranawala, Sheikhupura divisions and some areas of Sargodha.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Ludhyanvi confirmed the talks between PNL-N and ASWJ and said the recent support and cooperation between the two would continue. “Both parties could not do without each other and history shows that our voters are willing to see us united,” he added.

Malik Usman told The Express Tribune the decision on which constituencies the ASWJ will contest will be taken by the party itself.

PML-N’s Central Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan said that although the party was in talks with religious parties, he could not share details of the talks with ASWJ as its discussions were still ongoing.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2012.

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