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March 4, 2018
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Senate election: PTI suffers setback as its billionaire candidate loses

Peshawar

March 4, 2018

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PESHAWAR: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Khyber  Pakhtunkhwa  suffered a setback as according to party leadership nine to ten of their MPAs slipped during the Senate election on Saturday that led to the defeat of PTI’s billionaire candidate  Khayal Zaman Orakzai.

“There will be a high level inquiry within the party and those found guilty would have to face stern disciplinary action,” said a senior PTI leader in Peshawar soon after the results were announced.

He said the results had shocked the top party leadership and they would not spare those “who sold their conscience to others”.

“We were informed a day earlier about the horse-trading and were told to be ready for a setback,” said a PTI leader close to Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. 

The PTI had fielded eight candidates from KP and the party leadership was quite sure to get six of them elected. 

With the highest number of MPAs in the 124-member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, the PTI was expected to win more Senate seats compared to other parties.

However, only five candidates of the party succeeded  in winning the Senate election and three others – Khayal Zaman Orakzai and  Latif  Yousafzai for general seats and Naureen Ibrahim for women’s reserved seat – were defeated. 

Those elected on general seat from PTI platform included Faisal Javed, Ayub Afridi and Fida Mohammad while  Mohammad Azam Swati was elected on technocrat seat and  Dr Mehr Taj Roghani won one of the women reserved seat.

Some PTI candidates were newcomers and old party activists were stunned by the decision to award them the tickets. They complained that the Senate tickets were given on the basis of financial position of the candidates instead of their services and dedication to the party.

Some PTI circles even claimed that billionaires had heavily invested in the party’s KP chapter and got party tickets for taking part in the Senate election.

“We were expecting this and the resourceful party candidates were advised to pay the PTI MPAs to prevent them from selling their votes to other contenders. We don’t know what happened but we are dead sure that that nine or 10 of our MPAs didn’t follow the party line,” said the senior PTI leader. 

According to PTI circles in Peshawar, it was not clear who could have ditched the party candidates but some of the party MPAs were aware they won’t get party tickets for contesting the 2018 general election and it is believed they violated the party discipline and voted for other candidates in the Senate polls.

“Certain PTI MPAs were not happy with the policies of Pervez Khattak and had formed a forward bloc but the party’s top leadership constantly ignored them. It is suspected they could have taken their revenge,” said another PTI leader.

The newly elected Senator Faisal Javed belongs to Shawa Adda village in Swabi district and is a diehard PTI activist. He is often seen on stage in PTI public meetings with PTI chairman Imran Khan. He also performs as stage secretary in public gatherings. 

Compared to other PTI candidates, he isn’t a rich person but the party leadership believed he would win as he has been close to Imran Khan.

He was associated with a private cellular phone company from where he resigned and is now working fulltime for Imran Khan.

According to PTI sources, Faisal Javed’s wife is serving as a squadron leader in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). 

Ayub Afridi, stated to be a billionaire, is the owner of Haier Pakistan and has heavily invested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United Kingdom (UK). 

He belongs to Bara subdivision in Khyber Agency. According to the PTI sources, he is new to the electoral politics but has had a long association with Imran Khan. He is, however, a newcomer in PTI. 

As per PTI circles, Ayub Afridi is a fan of Imran Khan and has been donating Rs10 million to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital every year.

Another newcomer in the PTI is Fida Mohammad, who was previously with the PML-N along with his brother, Nisar Mohammad, an outgoing member of the Senate. 

Fida Mohammad too is a successful businessman and owns filling stations in different areas. His family is originally from  Katlang  tehsil  in Mardan district, but is now living in  Malakand district. 

Mohammad Azam Swati, elected on the technocrat seat, is also a resourceful man. He lives for years in the US and joined politics after returning home. He was first elected as District Nazim of his native Mansehra. 

He was once elected Senator on the JUI-F ticket. He quit JUI-F to join the PTI and get elected to the Senate on its ticket in 2015. 

Out of PTI’s two female candidates, Dr Mehr Taj Roghani and Naureen Ibrahim, only Dr Mehr Taj was elected on women seat.

Dr Mehr Taj Roghani is a senior paediatrician and is presently serving as Deputy Speaker of the Khyber PakhtunkhwaAssembly.

PTI’s Khayal Zaman Orakzai and Latif Yousafzai, both vying for the general seats, suffered defeat.

PTI had also assured support to Maulana Samiul Haq, head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami group, and administrator of Darul Uloom Haqqani in Akora Khattak, Nowshera. In the end though, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak appeared disinterested in getting Maulana Samiul Haq elected as Senator because he was under pressure to facilitate the election of the PTI candidates due to reports that some of his party lawmakers may have sold their votes to other contestants. 

Maulana Samiul Haq’s JUI-S had no representation in the provincial assembly. He contested for the technocrat seat and needed more than 35 votes to win.

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