PTI to contest by-election on 20 seats in Punjab: Qureshi

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ISLAMABAD, JUN 5: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has decided to contest by-elections on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly that fell vacant after the de-notification of PTI legislators over defection, senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced on Sunday.

The Election Commission of Pakistan last month said the by-elections on the 20 vacant seats would be held on July 17.

Talking to the media in Islamabad, Qureshi expressed apprehension that the Punjab government would employ its resources to influence the by-polls.

“The ECP has a big responsibility here and if they fail to ensure transparency in elections, then a big question mark will be raised on general elections which are to be held soon,” the PTI leader said.

He said PTI Chairman Imran Khan would hold a meeting at 1pm tomorrow to deliberate on the allocation of tickets.

The ex-foreign minister said his party had also decided that none of its MNAs would appear before the National Assembly speaker, who has summoned some PTI members tomorrow to verify their resignations.

Qureshi said their resignations had already been approved and notified by then speaker Qasim Khan Suri. “Hence, there is no need to appear before Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf again.”

‘Strong reaction’ if Imran arrested

Qureshi said Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had expressed his intention to arrest the leader of the most popular party in the country, adding that “there could be no bigger political blunder than this”.

He warned of a strong reaction to any such action by the government.

“You have to give your reaction immediately if you receive any report through social media or other media that this imported government has taken any such step,” he told the public.

He also called out the government for raising prices of petrol and edibles beyond the purchasing power of the masses.

He also questioned the “silence” of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the government’s talks with the TTP, saying the PTI government was lambasted by the opposition for such an approach.

The PTI leader also said the party would get cases registered against police officers who roughed up and tortured PTI activists on May 25.

He said women parliamentarians would also stage a protest in Islamabad or Rawalpindi against the government.

Qureshi said the party would also mobilise overseas Pakistanis to lodge protests in their respective cities. “We are also preparing content and overseas Pakistanis will share it with elected representatives abroad because no civilised society allows such interference.”