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June 9, 2018
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Fair-weather friends eclipse PTI diehards over tickets

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June 9, 2018

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LAHORE: The latest list of 173 ticket holders of National Assembly issued by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf comprises a majority of politicians who either have been infamous for changing loyalties or have only a few months affiliation with the party.

Besides, dynastic politics which has always been criticized by the PTI seems visible in various districts where party big wigs, through successful lobbying, have received tickets for their children or close relatives who are running for the 2018 general elections.

Moreover, the PTI, despite its claims to purge Pakistan of corruption, has also awarded tickets to two important characters of the Asgher Khan case including Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar and Liaqat Jatoi who have been accused of receiving millions of rupees from the ISI during the 1990 election against the PPP. Interestingly, Ali Asgher Khan, the son of this historic case complainant Air Marshal (retd) Asgher Khan, is also amongst those who are contesting the poll on PTI ticket.

The PTI on Friday issued the list of its 173 NA ticket holders out of which 112 seats are of Punjab. Party Chairman Imran Khan, as per the latest list, is contesting the poll from NA-35 (Bannu), NA-53 (Islamabad), NA-95 (Mianwali) and NA-131 (Lahore).

Imran also contested the poll from NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) in 1997 and 2002 from the districts of Swat and Karak but lost to Mian Gul Aurangzeb (PML-N) and Shah Abdul Aziz (MMA) respectively. However, he won in 2013 from Peshawar while defeating ANP’s Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.

A glance at the choice of the PTI for its 2018 candidates shows that most of the party members who have been fielded by the party are those who have been contesting the polls as candidates of rival parties in previous elections. A majority who lost the last general election on the ticket of PPP, PML-Q or other parties have also been chosen as party candidates.

From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the new entrants in the PTI who have got party tickets include Nur Alam Khan, Omar Ayub Khan, Ali Asgher Khan.

Nur Alam Khan was elected as PPP MNA from Peshawar in the 2008 polls but lost the 2013 general elections. By 2016, he sided with the PPP but joined the PTI later. He has now been awarded ticket form NA-27, Peshawar 1.

Omar Ayub Khan, the grandson of former president of Pakistan Field Marshal Ayub Khan and son of former foreign minister and speaker National Assembly Gohar Ayub has been awarded ticket from NA-17, Haripur. Omar Ayub was elected as MNA from NA-19, Haripur in 2002 general elections on PML-Q ticket and bagged over 80,000 votes. He served as finance minister of Pakistan in the era of Pervez Musharraf. His father served as IJI and PML-N MNA in 1990, 1993 and 1997. Omar Ayub joined the PTI in 2017.

In Punjab, the PTI has chosen many candidates who have been infamous for changing loyalties and always went with the tide. From Chakwal, the PTI has awarded ticket to Sardar Ghulam Abbas who is contesting the poll from NA-64. Sardar Ghulam Abbas was a provincial minister in the cabinet of Mian Manzoor Wattoo in 1993 being a PPP MPA. At the time while the PML-Q was at its peak, he served as district nazim Chakwal. In post October 2011 scenario while PTI gained strength, he was also amongst those who joined the PTI but quit it before the 2013 general elections. He contested from NA-60 Chakwal as an independent candidate and bagged over 100, 000 votes but lost to PML-N’s Major (retd) Tahir Iqbal with a margin of around 12, 000 votes. This is noteworthy that PTI candidate Raja Humayoon Sarfaraz got 48,076 in that contest.

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, the current secretary information of PTI, has been awarded ticket from NA-67, Jhelum II. Between 2007 and 2017, Fawad remained part of PML-Q, All Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He is closely related to the family of former governor Punjab Chaudhry Altaf Hussain whose son Farrukh Altaf is also a likely candidate of PTI from NA-66, Jhelum I, though party is yet to announce it. Fawad contested the 2013 general election on PML-Q ticket and bagged around 34, 000 votes.

However, on the same seat in the by-poll, despite losing the slot, he got noticed while bagging over 73,000 votes in 2016. From NA-83, Gujranwala, the PTI has awarded ticket to Rana Nazir Ahmed, once considered amongst the top five closes aides of Nawaz Sharif.

Rana Nazir won 1985 polls held on a non-party basis, got elected on the ticket of IJI in 1988 and 1990, lost to Abdullah Virk of the PPP in 1993 and won again in 1997 on PML-N ticket. He was arrested by the NAB in 1999 and his son Omar Nazir won the 2002 poll, this time on PML-Q ticket. While Sharifs were back to Pakistan by late 2007, Rana Nazir was back in their party too. He contested the 2008 poll on PML-N ticket and won. In 2013, he once again fielded his son Omar on PML-N ticket and won the poll.

The entire group of Rana Nazir joined the PTI last month and now he is the ticket holder of Tehreek-e-Insaf. Rana Asif Tauseef, brother of former PML-N MNA and PML-Q District Nazim of Faisalabad Rana Zahid Tauseef, has been awarded ticket from NA-105, Faisalabad. Rana Asif was amongst the few PML-N MNAs who won from Punjab in 2002 while the party was combating against Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorial rule. He, along with his brother joined the PML-Q and won the 2008 poll. He lost to Mian Farooq of the PML-N in 2013 general elections and quit the PML-Q and joined the PTI. From the same district, Nisar Ahmed Jutt, former MNA of 2002 and 2013 has been awarded ticket by the PTI from NA-106. Nisar Jutt was elected as MNA from NA-81 Faisalabad in 2002 on PPP ticket. Within days, he switched loyalty and joined the PPP Patriot, a rebel group of Peoples Party formed to support Musharraf’s nominee for the PM slot, Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

The PPP Patriot later merged into PML-Q and Dr Nisar contested the 2008 polls on its ticket but lost. While the PML-Q was in crisis, Nisar Jutt bade it a farewell and joined the PML-N and was elected its MNA. With the PML-N in crisis, Nisar Jutt became part of the PTI and now contesting the poll as its candidate.

Bilal Virk, nephew of former PPP MNA from Nankana Tawakul Ullah Virk is contesting the poll from NA-117. Bilal was a union council Nazim in 2001 while his uncle was district nazim of the PPP. In 2002, with the entire group, Bilal joined the PML-Q and was elected as its MNA. He sided with it till 2008. In 2008, he was contesting as PML-N candidate and remained a winner and also won the 2013 general election on the symbol of Tiger. Bilal left the PML-N in 2018 and has recently joined the PTI on whose ticket he is contesting. Jaffer Leghari, PPP MPA of 1988, MNA of National Alliance and PML-Q in 2002, 2008 and PML-N MNA in 2013 has joined the fifth party of his political career in form of PTI.

Jaffer Leghari, along with his group has joined the PTI just a few weeks ago and is now contesting the poll as its candidate from NA-193, Rajanpur. Like Nisar Jutt, Bilal Virk, Rana Nazir, the loyalty of Jaffer Leghari is just a few weeks old as compared to the other stalwarts of the PTI in their constituencies.

Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar and Liaqat Jatoi, two former chief ministers of Punjab and Sindh, have also been awarded party tickets, and interestingly, the names of both have been attributed to the ISI funding of 1990 against the PPP. Moreover, both these figures have also changed loyalties with their parties mostly at the time of crisis.

Khar, once a close confidant of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, served as governor and chief minister of Punjab in 1970s. Once known as Sher-e-Punjab, Khar by 2008 had chosen to serve as Game Warden Punjab under the administration of Shahbaz Sharif, the CM.

Mustafa Khar parted ways with Bhutto in mid-70s.

Khar joined the PPP in 1989 while the PPP had formed government. In 1993, he served as federal minister for water and power and quit the PPP in late 2007. He also contested a by-election as PML-N candidate from Muzaffargarh against the PPP’s Jamshed Dasti but lost. He also sided with Pakistan Awami Tehreek for a brief period and by 2017, he joined the PTI and now contesting the poll as its candidate from NA-181. Figures like Khusro Bakhtiar and Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwer have been switching loyalties but now within months of their joining, they are contesting the poll as PTI candidates.

Liaqat Jatoi quit the PML-N in the time of crisis and joined the PML-Q in Musharraf era during which he served as minister for water and power. He joined the PML-N again but parted ways with it and sided with the PPP for some time. Recently, he joined the PTI and now contesting the poll as PTI candidate from Dadu National Assembly seat.

Dynastic politics

Contrary to its own claims, PTI leadership has set precedents of dynastic politics which is visible in the first round of awarding of tickets.

From Nowshera, Pervaiz Khattak, the former chief minister of KP has been awarded ticket from NA-25, and his very close relative Imran Khattak has been pitched by the party from NA-26.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of PTI, has been fielded from NA-156, Multan-III, whereas he also got the NA ticket for his son Zain Qureshi who is the PTI candidate from NA-157, Multan 4.

Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwer, former MNA and federal minister, who has joined the PTI just a few months back is contesting the poll from NA-175, Rahimyar Khan, whereas his son, district vice chairman, Mobeen Alam is the PTI candidate from NA-175, Rahimyar Khan. Khusro Bakhtiar and his brother Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht are also PTI candidates for the NA and provincial assembly seats of the district.

From Sargodha, former provincial minister of PML-Q Amir Sultan Cheema who has recently joined the PTI is now its candidate from NA-91, Sargodha 4, whereas his son Muneeb Sultan is contesting the poll on PTI ticket from a provincial constituency. The entire group of the former speaker Punjab Assembly comprising himself, his son and nephew is holding PTI tickets. From the NA-101 seat, his nephew Zafar Zulqernain Sahi, an MPA in 2008, is contesting the poll on PTI ticket, whereas on both the provincial assembly seats, Afzal Sahi and his son are candidates on the symbol of bat.

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