ISLAMABAD: The leadership of the mainstream political parties was under serious pressure from the aspiring candidates for tickets for the forthcoming general elections on Sunday, a day ahead of the final day for filing of nomination papers.
Differences were quite visible among the party cadre in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) over the issue of award of tickets.
Today (Monday) is the last day for filing of nomination papers for the elections. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), nomination papers for reserved seats of women and non-Muslims can also be filed till today (Monday). The candidates for national and provincial assemblies continued to file nomination papers for general elections scheduled for July 25 on Sunday.
The 19th of this month has been fixed as the last date for scrutiny of nomination papers by the returning officers, while appeals against decisions of returning officers on rejecting or accepting nomination papers will be filed till June 22. The last date for deciding appeals by appellate tribunals is June 27, while the revised list of candidates will be published the next day. The last date for withdrawal of candidature and publication of the final list is 29th of this month. The offices of Election Commission as well as district returning officers and returning officers remained open on Sunday to facilitate the aspiring candidates to file their nomination papers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of enraged PTI activists and workers again staged a demonstration outside Imran’s Banigala residence and on routes leading to his residence on Sunday. The PTI has again summoned the parliamentary board meeting on June 13 to take up some eight issues pertaining to allotment of tickets.
“Yes, Imran Khan has called another meeting of the board on June 13 at 10:00pm to settle some candidates’ pending issues, while over 90 percent ticket allotments have been smooth and widely welcomed,” a senior PTI leader said, when approached by The News on Sunday.
He defended some disputes on award of tickets, saying this was quite natural when you had a large party and so many aspirants to contest in the general elections. Disappointed PTI activists agitated on what they called unjust and unfair distribution of party tickets for the general elections. They included people from the Punjab as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Supporters of former environment minister Malik Amin Aslam, whom Imran had very recently promised to have him in his government, also reached Banigala and protested over being ignored for the ticket. In the delimitation of constituencies, Attock, which previously had three National Assembly constituencies, has been reduced to two constituencies. Tickets for both these seats have been given to former district nazim Attock Major (R) Tahiq Sadiq, leaving Malik Amin Aslam and so many party supporters in the district in disbelief and astonishment.
The surprised withdrawal of Ali Tareen, the son of former secretary general of PTI Jahangir Khan Tareen, is also being discussed in the party circles. Ali, the confirmed ticketholder for NA-161, Lodhran, has announced that he would not contest the election because of his educational engagements abroad.
In a video message, Ali said there were many suitable candidates for PTI tickets and he believed that the ticket should go to some ideological, committed and diehard worker, who invested their time and energies in the party and its months long sit-in in Islamabad in 2014. He said he secured 90,000 votes in a by-election in 2017 against the government candidate and though he lost the battle, it was a big success for him. At that time, he had got three-month leave from the Oxford University but this time it was difficult for him to get leave.
Ali contended that he was to complete his degree in September this year, and until that time he was bound to spend 10 days a month on campus. For these reasons, he was unable to contest the July 25 elections. However, the party ranks questioned the logic behind this reason, as if this was the case, he would not have applied and the board should have been informed timely. For them, his decision to withdraw from the contest is shrouded in mystery.
The PTI Murree chapter has also opposed the issuance of party ticket to unknown figure from PP-6, provincial assembly seat consisting of sister tehsils of Murree and Kotli Sattian.
The PTI workers and local leaders held a protest rally at the Mall Road, Murree, and demanded that Imran Khan must review the issuance of PP-6 ticket which is awarded to Maj (retd) Latasab Satti who, according to them, is not well known political figure in the area. They said a weak panel in NA-57 and PP-6 is introduced by the parliamentary board while awarding the party tickets on both seats. They said Ghulam Murtaza Satti and Sardar Salim Khan were strong candidates who had the potential to give tough time to the PML-N candidates. They demanded the party leadership to review the award of tickets in Murree.
Meanwhile, the PTI launched its election campaign for Imran Khan in the federal capital by opening an election office. PTI Senior Vice-President Dr Babar Awan opened the office and claimed that first time in Pakistan’s history, the prime minister would be from Islamabad and this constituency’s voters would have their contribution in it. The election office has been opened in UC-6, Phulgaran.
The parliamentary board of the PML-N will meet today (Monday) to interview hopefuls for candidacy in the elections. The PML-N will make the first phase of announcements for party candidates for the national and provincial assemblies constituencies. The party had earlier stated that candidates would be announced in two phases. However, a date for the second phase is yet to be announced.
The session was attended by former prime minister Nawaz Sahrif, former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Asif Ashraf and Rana Mashood among others.
During the meeting, these leaders interviewed aspirants for the party tickets. Shehbaz Sharif was also interviewed by the party's parliamentary panel. "Mian Sb, you are the party Quaid and it is your decision whether to give me a ticket or not," Shehbaz said before the party board. The former Punjab chief minister was questioned regarding his performance and future plans during the interview. Nomination papers of Shahbaz were received by the party leaders in Karachi on Sunday. Shehbaz Sharif has submitted nomination papers for NA-248, NA-249, and NA-250.
Sources earlier said that the party would give majority of tickets to those who were previously members of the national or provincial assemblies. “Maryam has been recommended to contest from Karachi as well,” sources further said. Maryam said that she along with Hamza gave interview to the central parliamentary board as members for the ticket to contest polls. In her tweet, Maryam said she is so happy after giving interview. “Felt great to have appeared alongside Hamza before PML-N parliamentary board for interviews as PMLN workers & candidates. PMLN all the way.”
Nawaz and Shahbaz are said to be at loggerheads over issuing a party ticket to former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar. It is further believed that alternate candidates will be fielded for some party leaders who are facing cases.
Chaudhry Nisar has submitted nomination papers for NA-59 (Rawalpindi III) and two seats of Punjab Assembly. On the other hand, Maryam Nawaz submitted the nomination papers for NA-127 in Lahore. Khawaja Asif filed his details for PP-37 and Sialkot’s constituency NA-73.