With the upcoming polls’ status still uncertain, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar revealed on Sunday that the party, led by Imran Khan, will initiate its election campaign for the Punjab elections the following day. Umar announced on Twitter, “Tehreek-e-Insaf will officially start its election campaign tomorrow. They (PDM) may not be prepared, but we are.”
This week, PTI completed a list of 297 candidates for the elections, following personal interviews conducted by Chairman Imran Khan with all party candidates to ensure merit in the distribution of party tickets. The former prime minister, removed from office last April through a no-confidence motion, held these interviews from April 6 to April 18.
Nonetheless, the ticket distribution process has met with internal discontent, as several prominent leaders were excluded. Geo News reports that Khan may add party Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Umar to a committee tasked with addressing these concerns. In response to criticism from party workers and supporters, Khan is also likely to involve senior members in deciding on ticket distribution appeals.
Curiously, PTI’s decision to launch the election campaign coincides with ongoing uncertainty about the elections. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is still waiting for the federal government to supply the necessary funds for the polls. The Supreme Court had earlier instructed the ECP to conduct Punjab elections on May 14 and ordered the federal government to allocate Rs21 billion by April 10, as well as ensure election security.
The government, however, has refused to provide funding for the elections after Parliament dismissed the proposal. Similarly, the defense ministry has declined to offer security due to the prevailing security situation. The ministry has also petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse the May 14 order. As the case proceeds, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has noted that the three-member bench will not rescind the order to hold elections on May 14.