ISLAMABAD - After winning the top slot of the Senate, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari eyes sweeping Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local bodies polls due on May 30, taking his allies on board in what seems to be the next challenge for PTI that rules the restive province.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is all set to conduct polls in KP in May while the LB elections in Punjab and Sindh are scheduled to be held in September.

In a brainstorming session in Zardari House, the former president held a long meeting with prominent PPP leaders from KP for devising a strategy to sweep LB polls in the PTI-ruled province. Though the other parties have not started any activity in KP, Zardari on Saturday went a step ahead by constituting an eight-member board of PPP leaders for local bodies’ polls in the province.

The board consists of former Safron minister Najmuddin Khan, former National Assembly deputy speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, Sardar Ali Khan, Asma Alamgir, Shuja Khan, Azam Afridi and Nighat Orakzai.

In what seems to be a challenge for the popularity graph of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in KP, a PPP leader told The Nation that Zardari intends to ally with ANP, JUI-F and PML-N against PTI ahead of the LB polls.

The Supreme Court appears to be pressuring ECP to hold LB polls in Punjab, KP, Sindh and cantonment boards under Article 140-A of the Constitution which says: “Each province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments.”

An ECP official said the commission would hold LB polls in KP in May for which 100 million ballot papers would be printed once a formal schedule is announced.

All political parties will focus on KP in May as the LB polls in Punjab and Sindh are going to be held in September and the political leaderships will have enough time to land in KP to clinch more and more seats and deprive the PTI of maximum possible seats.

Though the apex court wants Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct the LB polls in Punjab and Sindh in September, ECP argues the polls in the two provinces might get late as it will have to hire private printing presses for the printing of over 200 million ballot papers.

In case of KP, ECP Acting Additional Secretary Sher Afgan, however, said they could provide ballot papers to the province on account of small number of voters as compared to Sindh and Punjab where more than 400 million papers would be needed.

“Our co-chairman wants KP to be a stronghold of PPP. I am sure our party will emerge victorious in the KP LB polls. From now onwards, we are going to mobilise our workers besides taking our allies on board,” PPP leader and former National Assembly deputy speaker, Faisal Karim Kundi, told The Nation on Saturday.

Earlier, a PTI leader told this reporter that people at grassroots level in KP were annoyed with PTI for its anti-encroachment drives across the province. “The KP government displaced thousands of people from roads, streets and markets on the pretext of anti-encroachment drives. We will face a tough time in the LB polls,” he admitted.

Earlier, the SC had ordered ECP to hold LB polls on April 25 in the 43 cantonment boards and on May 30 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the apex court had expressed its anger over the commission for failing to hold the elections, a constitutional requirement.

Awami National Party (ANP), JUI-F and PML-N are expected to enter into alliance with PPP for the LB polls in KP against PTI. A prominent ANP leader said they would dent the popularity of PTI and Jamaat-e-Isalmi in the province.

Former ANP Senator Zahid Khan told The Nation on phone that PPP had not yet discussed its alliance with the nationalist party for the LB polls in KP, but added it was likely that the two parties would reach understanding very soon.