PML-N withdraws nomination papers of its president Shehbaz Sharif from NA-242 at 11th hour and fields Khawaja Shoaib

Shehbaz Sharif (left), president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), addresses the media after a meeting with Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) party leaders ahead of the upcoming 2024 general elections at latter's headquater in Karachi, on December 29, 2023. — Online

In an unexpected development ahead of the February 8 general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQMP) have failed to agree on seat adjustment in National Assembly constituency NA-242 (District Keamari).

According to the latest move, the PML-N — former ruling party — withdrew the nomination papers of its president Shehbaz Sharif from NA-242 at the 11th hour and filed Khawaja Shoaib in the constituency, where he would face MQM-P’s Syed Mustafa Kamal — the former Karachi mayor.

Earlier, reports were circulating on mainstream and social media that the MQM-P is likely to withdraw Kamal from the NA-242 in favour of the PML-N.

Talking to journalists outside the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PML-N leader Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan confirmed that the former prime minister would not contest form NA-242, saying: “No candidate can contest for more than two seats.”

He further added, “I have come to withdraw the nomination papers of Shehbaz Sharif.”

On the other hand, the MQM-P gave its go-ahead to Ali Khursheedi to contest the upcoming elections from PS-119 (Karachi-West).

It is pertinent to mention here that Shehbaz on December 29 had announced filing his nomination papers for the polls from Karachi’s NA-242 constituency.

He had contested from the NA-249 constituency — as per the previous delimitation — of Karachi in the 2018 general elections which he lost to the then-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Faisal Vawda by a slight margin.

A few days back it was reported that the MQM-P had entered seat adjustment with the PML-N for three NA constituencies.

Sources told Geo News on Tuesday that apart from Shehbaz, PML-N will field its candidates on five NA seats — including NA-229, 230, and 239 — as well as 11 provincial assembly seats within these constituencies.

Meanwhile, the MQM-P candidates would contest polls for the national and provincial assembly seats from Malir’s NA-231 constituency, they said.

However, MQM-P leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on January 10 denied the reports of any seat adjustment with PML-N for the NA-242 constituency in Karachi.

"There is no truth to the reports pertaining to the seat adjustment in NA-242 Karachi," Siqqdiui said, adding that Senior Deputy Convener Mustafa Kamal was contesting as MQM-P candidate from the constituency.

Sources privacy to the matter said that top leadership of the two parties had held several rounds of negotiation but failed to reach a consensus over seat adjustments.

The former ruling party was hopeful that an alliance with MQM-P to help PML-N get 3-4 seats in Karachi.

In November last year, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said that three to four candidates of his party could get elected in Karachi in the upcoming general elections if they entered an alliance with MQM-P.

— More to follow... 

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