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June 10, 2018

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Disputes emerge on award of party tickets

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Disputes are being witnessed on the issue of award of party tickets in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as well as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) as those who failed to get tickets have initiated protests.

The parliamentary board of the PTI on Saturday awarded tickets to more applicants, including ex-federal minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Sheharyar Afridi and former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister Shaukat Yousafzai, amid cheers and an air of resentment.

The PTI Chairman Imran Khan is to leave for Saudi Arabia along with his spouse Bushra Bibi to perform Umrah on June 11. He is expected to be accompanied by another senior party leader and ticket holder Aleem Khan and his family on a chartered plane.

Firdous Ashiq Awan will contest from NA-72, Sialkot, whereas former MNA Sheharyar will again be contesting from Kohat for the National Assembly seat and Shaukat Yousafazi has been awarded ticket for KP Assembly from Shangla. Shaukat Yousafzai previously won from a Peshawar seat.

Moreover, quite interestingly, the PTI has taken a bold decision of fielding a female candidate, Hameeda Shahid from Lower Dir for a provincial assembly seat. The region made headlines during the last elections when women voters were not allowed to exercise their right to vote.

Ali Muhammad Khan, who has been vocal in defence of the party, particularly on the media, is not sure of getting a nod from the parliamentary board, as survey in the constituency will determine his fate.

While the party is almost through with the most difficult task of picking ‘suitable’ candidates for the upcoming general elections, voices of resentment and dissent have started echoing within the party ranks. Several activists from Rawalpindi and Bannu reached Banigala to register their protest over allegedly ignoring genuine party activists.

It is being alleged that newcomers in many constituencies have been preferred over those, who have braved hard times to remain loyal to the party. It is believed that between 40-50 per cent ticket-holders either joined the party this year or last year, or after the 2013 elections.

One of the oldest and closest aides of PTI Chairman Imran Khan Nameeul Haq is reportedly extremely upset over the dominance of certain party leaders, who had joined the party in recent few years and today are calling shots with over award of tickets for the upcoming polls. Naeemul Haq is also member of the central parliamentary board.

“It is part of democracy and in a democratic party such things happen. Naeemul Haq is a bit unhappy but hopefully, we will convince him to end his protest,” said a senior party leader, when approached for his comment on this development. Naeemul Haq has left for Lahore, where some more angry leaders are reaching to discuss the situation. He agreed that the party is passing through a critical moment and if it did not manage to control the things, then the PTI was up for an electoral surprise much more than the nation witnessed following the 2013 elections.

A local PTI leader Col (retd) Sabir Raja led his supporters to Banigala to be the first voice of resentment after the lists of the first batch of candidates were released. His supporters wanted him to be issued ticket from Rawalpindi. Sabir Rana is interested in running for NA-59, possibly against veteran Ch Nisar Ali Khan.

“The parachuters have snatched the diehard party activists’ right and this is not acceptable to us,” one speaker asserted while speaking to media. Dozens of party workers also arrived from Bannu. Protesters alleged that merit had been put aside while selecting candidates and it could deeply hurt the party on the polling day.

On the other hand, the supporters of Malik Amin Aslam are in shock over the denial of NA ticket to him from Attock. A few days ago, at a function, Imran showered praise on Malik Amin for making the Billion Tree Tsunami project a great success and promised to make him federal minister for environment after the elections. He was the head of the project.

Moreover, recently-appointed Senior Vice-President Dr Babar Awan, who was also an aspirant of fighting the electoral bout from the federal capital, was reportedly not able to get the ticket. It is perhaps for this reason, he has been given a senior party post.

Meanwhile, Imran chaired a meeting of the party's media strategy committee and deliberated, among others matters, the proposed country-wide party poll campaign. It was noted with appreciation that the parliamentary board has awarded tickets to the youth, women and committed party workers for the upcoming polls.

The forum strongly condemned the long power loadshedding and added that the ownership of Nawaz with regards to the Avenfield properties had been proved. Dr Babar Awan, Asad Umar, Dr Shireen Mazari, Shibli Faraz and Faisal Javed were present during the meeting, among others.

In Sindh, the PPP is also in hot water over awarding party tickets, while the PML-N and PTI are also under pressure.

An investigation by The News showed that from Karachi to Kashmore, the PPP leadership is facing hardship to settle down the party tickets issues.

In Karachi, the party workers are protesting over not awarding ticket to Sajid Jokhio, former provincial minister. Jokhio has differences with Hakeem Baloch group and Jokhio is likely to join alliance of local political figures. The PPP popular leader in Jamshoro Malik Asad is not happy with the strategy in awarding tickets in the district. Malik Asad, who remained unchallengeable leader during the last 30 years, reportedly has some land dispute with a party’s top leader. He is planning to contest election on three provincial and one National Assembly seat of the province if the party did not award him tickets as per his wishes.

Media reports said differences also emerged between the groups led by former chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and former provincial minister Manzoor Wasan. The differences could not be resolved as Qaim Ali Shah left a meeting chaired by Faryal Talpur for mitigating the differences. The former chief minister was angry for not awarding ticket to his daughter Nafeesa Shah. He also refused to contest election from PS-26. The PPP has also stopped issuance of ticket to Nawab Wasan till the resolution of the issue.

In Thatta, though after the joining of strong political group of Sherazis of PML-N, the party has become strong, but this decision of the party annoyed the old cadre termed as ‘Jiyalas’ and the party could face revolt as some leaders could take part in elections against the Sherazis.

In district Matiari, renowned Makhdooms of Hala are considering fielding their own candidates as independents or from the platform of their ‘Sarwari Jamiat’ against the party candidates. At least three meetings between Asif Zardari and Makhdoom Jameel could not break the deadlock on tickets. Makhdoom Jameel, his brothers and aides took two forms from each constituency, one as the PPP candidates and one as independents to keep their options open.

In Shikarpur, awarding of party ticket to Imtiaz Sheikh caused annoyance to old party workers. Renowned local PPP leader Agha Taimore Pathan has already left the party and has joined the PTI.

Joining of Brig (retd) Tariq Lakhair in Dadu has annoyed former provincial ministers Imran Zafar Leghari and Fayaz Butt and in case any of the old party leaders did not get the ticket, they would take part in elections as independents.

In Hyderabad, the PPP has been divided practically into four groups -- Jam Khan Shoro, Maula Bux Chandio, Ali Nawaz Shah Rizvi and Sharjeel Memon – over the ticket distribution. According to sources, the party’s decision to award ticket to Adil Jamali, son of former IGP Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali, has also annoyed the old cadre of party.

Dahiry group of the PPP in Nawabshah also has reservations and is considering to join other political platform or contesting elections as independents.

Old party workers in district Naushero Feroze are not happy with awarding of ticket to former law minister Zia Lanjar.

In Tharparkar, leaders like Mahesh Malani, Dr Khatoo Mal Jewan and Noor Muhammad have become inactive and left political activities in protest against the party leadership’s decisions over awarding of tickets. In this situation, strong political group of Arbabs led by former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Raheem has become stronger.

Workers of Lyari, the hub of PPP in Karachi, have reservations over joining of Nabeel Gabol. Sources said former MNA Shahajahan Baloch has formed a separate group to contest election against Gabol.

Monitoring Report adds: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif are at loggerheads over issuing a party ticket to Chaudhry Nisar to contest the upcoming general elections.

“The PML-N quaid Nawaz is adamant not to issue a ticket to former interior minister Nisar,” sources told Geo News on Saturday. “It has been recommended that if Nisar does not ask the party to issue him a ticket, then he should not be given one,” the sources said.

The sources said the party leadership mulled over applications submitted for Nisar’s seat while differences persist between Nawaz and Shahbaz over the matter.

“The PML-N will announce party candidates for the national and provincial assembly constituencies for the general elections scheduled for July 25 in two phases,” the sources said.

“The first announcement regarding ticket holders will be on June 10 (today),” they said, adding: “Around 70 percent of ticket holders will be those who were previously members of the national or provincial assemblies.” It is further believed that alternate candidates will be fielded for some party leaders who are facing cases.

Regarding Maryam Nawaz and Shahbaz, sources said, “It appears that they both will contest elections from three constituencies each.” “Maryam has been recommended to contest from Karachi as well,” the sources further said.

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