ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his party PML-N are in deep shock after losing major political battle against their arch political rival Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab by-elections. And now they are holding consultations with senior party leadership to analyse the factors behind the defeat and evolve a future strategy for their political survival in the province.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman and former PM Nawaz Sharif yesterday spoke to each other on conference call and discussed the reasons of the daefeat. They agreed to meet soon in Islamabad to devise the future strategy and counter PTI politically.

The defeat in by-elections in Punjab for PML-N was all gloom and doom for both Shehbaz Sharif and his brother Nawaz Sharif, despite the hard work done by the party leaders including Maryum Nawaz Sharif who addressed rallies in the cities where their candidates were contesting elections.

A massive economic package was also announced by Chief Minister Hamza Sharif for provision of free electricity to low consumers, but it could not win the hearts of the voters.

Biggest blunder committed by PML-N was the awarding of tickets to PTI dissidents in these by-elections which annoyed not only workers but also aspiring candidates of the party.

Now the party has to come to immediate reconciliation mode with the estranged candidates and leaders and ensure that these candidates are not ignored in the general elections 2023.

Now it’s quite clear that PML-Q’s Parvez Elahi would be the chief minister of Punjab, and in this situation PML-N will have to make a fresh attempt to woo him for the sake of its survival in the province.

PTI chief Imran Khan wants early elections, therefore, in coming days he could ask the new chief minister to dissolve Punjab Assembly to pave the way for general elections. However, after becoming chief  minister, Parvez Elahi may not go for this option.

The ruling coalition does not want early elections, therefore, they would like to extend their support to Parvez Elahi not to dissolve the Punjab Assembly and continue as chief minister.

It would be politically damaging for PML-N if it does not go for any patchup with Parvez Elahi, who is considered a political guru, would revive his party and carry out massive development work across Punjab and release funds.

Pakistan People’s Party was not visible in the election campaign for PML-N candidates which was also a major factor of their defeat, now PML-N will have to officially take up the matter with PPP and seek explanation.

PML-N top leadership will have to reorganise the party in Punjab and woo estranged leaders who used to win seats on party tickets.

PTI chief Imran Khan exploited the issue of price hike and raise in the price of petroleum products by the present government which proved to be fatal for the party as Punjab is agriculture province and diesel price rise disturbed the farmers and common people. Although the government before elections had reduced the prices of petroleum products, it was not effective.

The prevailing economic mess may not salvage the government, therefore, the government will have to speed up its efforts for obtaining foreign loans for temporarily stabilizing the economy. This might be a short term solution and not a long term solution.

 

The top leadership of the ruling coalition is expected to meet this week in Islamabad where a final decision would be made whether to continue their government or go for fresh elections.