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October 31, 2016

PTI activists lack enthusiasm ahead of Nov 2 protests


October 31, 2016

Abbottabad Diary

ABBOTTABAD: There seems little enthusiasm among the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers here to participate in the proposed lockdown of Islamabad on November 2 compared to the dharna of August 14, 2014.

The lacklustre response of the PTI workers to the upcoming march on Islamabad is due to the grouping in the party. The PTI is clearly divided into two groups in Abbottabad. One is the Jadoon group and the other is the Ali Asghar Khan faction.

The Jadoon group is apparently led by Ali Khan Jadoon, son of former federal minister and leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Amanullah Khan Jadoon. It includes PTI’s Member National Assembly Dr Azhar Jadoon, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, Food Minister Qalander Khan Lodhi and Member Provincial Assembly Sardar Mohammad Idrees. 

The other faction of the party is led by Ali Asghar Khan, son of veteran politician Air Marshal (R) Asghar Khan. Sardar Sher Bahadur, district Nazim of Abbottabad, is the only notable party old-timer who supports this group in Abbottabad.

Sardar Sher Bahadur, an old party loyalist, got elected as Abbottabad district nazim on August 31, 2015 after he was denied the PTI ticket in favour of Ali Khan Jadoon, a new entrant to the party. He achieved victory with the support of Ali Asghar Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz

Sardar Sher Bahadur was also denied the PTI ticket in the election for the Kehal Union Council. The ticket was given to the brother-in-law of Mushtaq Ghani. Sardar Sher Bahadur won the union council seat by a huge margin as an independent candidate. He announced joining the PTI after winning the election in the hope that he would be awarded the party ticket for contesting for the office of district nazim. 

He was ignored by the party again and the PTI ticket was given to Ali Khan Jadoon. Sher Bahadur joined hands with PML-N and won the district nazim election by defying party discipline. 

The PTI expelled him from the party and filed disqualification reference against him in the Election Commission of Pakistan. Subsequently, he was de-seated and later restored by a court order pending his case with the Peshawar High Court.

It is worth mentioning here that Sardar Sher Bahadur was the main contributor to the 2014 dharna in Islamabad. He financed the party heavily and took hundreds of party workers from Abbottabad to Islamabad sit-in every week.  

This time though, both Jadoon and Ali Asghar Khan factions of the party have pledged to take thousands of PTI workers to Islamabad on November 2. In off-the-record conversation, many old party stalwarts and activists said that sensing violence in Islamabad or on their way to the capital they would desist from this adventure. Many said they were disillusioned by the party’s public representatives and local leadership in Abbottabad.  

“The old party workers are ignored and new entrants given importance in the party. Ministers are powerless and they seldom call or meet local party workers.

The only time they remember us is when there is any public meeting or dharna”, said a provincial office-bearer of the party who supports the group headed by provincial assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.“It will be a big achievement if this time the local leadership and public representatives succeed in gathering 1,000 people for participation in the Islamabad dharna,” he added.

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