Sunday June 16, 2024

Local government polls: Nepotism, internal rifts behind KP rout

Sources say that Governor Shah Farman had distributed PTI tickets in Peshawar which the party lost miserably

By Mushtaq Yusufzai
December 23, 2021

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has reportedly submitted a detailed report to Prime Minister Imran Khan on the recent local government elections in 17 districts of the province and poor performance of the ruling PTI candidates.

The PTI candidates’ poor performance had enraged the prime minister and he decided to conduct a thorough investigation to find out the causes of the party's defeat. According to well-placed sources, the prime minister already knew that party tickets were distributed to newcomers and blue-eyed people by ignoring the old PTI workers.

The prime minister Wednesday called Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to a meeting in Islamabad and reportedly discussed with him the causes of the party's defeat in the elections and the strategy for the second phase of the local government elections scheduled to be held in January 2022.

According to the sources, the KP government submitted a report to the prime minister, mentioning the modus operandi of party ticket distribution. Provincial Minister for Higher Education Kamran Bangash, when reached, told The News that Prime Minister Imran Khan had called Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to a meeting, but he was not aware of any report submitted by the government.

"We had discussed the second phase of local government elections in the province," said Kamran Bangash while quoting the chief minister as telling him. Other sources in Islamabad, however, confirmed it, saying the prime minister had received a detailed report on what had happened in the KP elections.

"There was nothing new in the report submitted by the KP government. The prime minister had already collected information about the party's defeat in the elections and how irrelevant people managed to get the party tickets," a senior PTI official said on condition of anonymity.

The prime minister was expected to recommend some major changes in the KP government in future, he went on to add.

"The PTI made mistakes in the first phase of KP local government elections and paid the price. Wrong candidate selection was a major cause (of their loss). From now on I will personally be overseeing PTI's local government election strategy in the 2nd phase of KP LG elections and LG elections across Pakistan. Insha Allah PTI will come out stronger," the prime minister stated in a tweet on Tuesday.

The sources said the poor results of PTI candidates had saddened the prime minister who had decided to investigate the causes of their poor performance in the elections. "Since Khan sahib (Imran Khan) had left it to the party leaders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they awarded tickets to either family members of influential PTI legislators, their personal friends or the financiers of certain party leaders. Genuine party workers were ignored, which created disappointment and in reaction, they supported candidates of the rival parties," a senior PTI leader, close to the prime minister, told The News.

Pleading anonymity, he said besides wrong ticket distribution, the party leadership had come to know that some of the party leaders were accused of selling tickets to some well-off but newcomers to the party. The party leadership wasn't satisfied with the overall results but their defeat in some places such as Mardan, Charsadda, Bannu, Tank Lakki Marwat, Kohat, Nowshera, and particularly in Peshawar disappointed them.

According to senior party leaders, Governor Shah Farman had distributed PTI tickets in Peshawar. The party workers in Peshawar had never heard of their candidate for Peshawar city mayor slot, Rizwan Bangash.

Besides Governor Shah Farman, the ticket for the seat of city mayor was awarded on the recommendation of Taimur Jhagra, Kamran Bangash and Fazli Elahi MPA. The prime minister has learnt that the PTI lost the city mayor seat by a narrow margin owing to the support of Arbab Shehzad's family to the JUI-F candidate.

Badaber tehsil chairman seat was lost due to tussle between Governor Shah Farman and PTI MNA Nasir Musazai. Nasir Musazai had contested elections many times on the PML-N ticket but never won. He then joined PTI, got the party ticket and became MNA from Peshawar.

Similarly, their candidate lost the Mathra Tehsil seat due to the alleged support of PTI MNA Noor Alam and PTI MPA Arbab Wasim to the rival candidate.

According to sources, Pishtakhara tehsil party ticket was awarded by Governor Shah Farman and the party lost the seat to JUI-F candidate. The party leadership is seriously upset over their loss in Peshawar and that, too, at the hands of JUI-F.

"His only qualification was his wealth and taking care of some party leaders when they went to Abu Dhabi. There were better candidates than him but didn't have enough reach to the party leaders to get the ticket," said PTI MPA.

He said Rizwan Bangash was having a vast business in Abu Dhabi, while his father was associated with the Awami National Party in the UAE. In 2018, according to the party sources, some influential circles in Peshawar had attempted to award the party ticket to Rizwan Bangash for PK-2 Peshawar by denying the ticket to Shaukat Yousafzai, asking him to contest from his native Shangla district.

In the 2012 elections, Shaukat Yousafzai had won the election from PK-2. However, then another Bangash (Kamran Bangash) managed to get the party ticket for PK-2. In Peshawar, KP Assembly Deputy Speaker Mahmudul Jan secured the party ticket for his brother Ahtisham Khan but he lost to the JUIF candidate.

Mehmood Jan publicly blamed the PTI MNA Noor Alam Khan and a party MPA for supporting the JUIF candidate against his brother. Another reason that disappointed the party workers was awarding the party tickets to family members of the party legislators. It had aroused strong criticism from the party workers when tickets were given to family members of the PTI lawmakers and newcomers but the party leadership didn't take it seriously.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had selected the PTI candidates in Malakand and Buner districts and all of them won elections. In Swabi, in four tehsils, PTI has won only one seat. The party tickets were awarded on the recommendation of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Education Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai. Asad Qaiser got a party ticket for his cousin Attaullah Khan to contest for the city mayor slot. Some of the party workers had raised voice, saying Asad Qaiser himself was Member of National Assembly and his brother was a member of the provincial assembly, therefore, the ticket should be given to another PTI worker.

Similarly in Swabi, Tarakai is another influential family which holds control of party politics. Shahram Tarakai himself is the provincial minister, his uncle Mohammad Ali Tarakai is also a member of the KP Assembly, while his father is an MNA, and another uncle is a Senator.

The Tarakai family got the PTI mayor seat ticket for Buland Iqbal, uncle of Shahram Tarakai. In Mardan district, according to the party report, Minister Mohammad Atif Khan chose all the candidates, without consulting the party MNAs and MPAs. All the candidates were of weak political background and thus lost. PTI couldn't win a single tehsil mayor seat in Mardan.

According to the party leadership, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur had taken all the tickets for southern districts and distributed them as per his wishes. In Dera Ismail Khan, tickets were awarded by Ali Amin Gandapur. He gave the party ticket to his brother Omar Amin Gandapur.

The city mayor election was postponed due to the killing of the ANP candidate. In the remaining five tehsils, PTI won only a single tehsil mayor seat. The independent candidates won two seats and two seats were secured by JI and PPP.

Also in DI Khan, a party ticket was allotted to Aaraiz Gandapur, brother of PTI MPA Aghaz Gandapur. In the Karak district, MNA Shahid Khattak selected the party candidates. He had allotted the party ticket to his uncle but he lost to the JUI-F candidate. The party had won two tehsil chairman seats.

In Mohmand tribal district, according to the investigation report, the party awarded tickets to candidates on the recommendations of MNA Sajid Khan, and none of them were popular among the PTI workers. PTI won only one tehsil mayor seat in Mohmand.

Also in Mohmand tribal district, a female PTI MPA had taken a ticket for her brother, Naveed Khan but lost. Similarly, Pervez Khattak is MNA from Nowshera district and his son is MPA but he got the party ticket for his other son, Ishaq Khattak and managed to elect him as the city mayor.

In Charsadda, according to sources, PTI MNA Fazal Mohammad Khan awarded the party tickets and all of the candidates lost the election. The candidates were of ill-repute, and PTI MPAs did not support as they were not consulted in ticket distribution.

The PM has leant in a report that Minister Fazal-e- Shakoor allegedly backed a rival candidate that led to the loss of PTI candidate. Ticket holders Zafar Ali and Irshad Ali were completely reliant on Fazal Mohammad Khan.

The situation in Kohat was similar to Charsadda and Peshawar. The party ticket was initially awarded to a PTI stalwart Shafi Jan for mayor seat but was withdrawn later and given to Salman Shinwari. He contested elections as an independent candidate and lost to JUI-F by a narrow margin.

The ticket was withdrawn on the direction of Saifullah Niazi. Shafi Jan secured 26,793 votes against Salman Shinwari of PTI ticket holder who got 15,219 votes. PTI MNA from Kohat Shehryar Afridi, was accused of not helping the PTI ticket holder in the campaign. Afridi awarded another ticket to an unpopular candidate Sajid Iqbal and lost.

Differences between Ali Amin Gandapur and PTI MPA and former health minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan caused a huge loss to the party in Lakki Marwat, where tickets were awarded to unknown people without taking Dr Hisham into confidence.

Out of four tehsils, PTI didn't win a single seat due to selection of wrong people. The party leaders had warned the central leadership about interference of Ali Amin Gandapur in Lakki Marwat and its consequences for the party but they didn't take it seriously.

Dr Hisham Inamullah belongs to an influential political family in Lakki Marwat but the party had sidelined him for quite some time. He was not consulted in ticket distribution and thus he supported independent candidates. Three Tehsil seats were won by independents backed by Dr Hisham Inamullah and Saifullah family.

It is mentioned in the report that PTI tickets were distributed on Ali Amin Gandapur's recommendations. Dr Hisham Inamullah was aggrieved as he thought to be cornered by the Governor Shah Farman and Ali Amin Gandapur.

In Khyber tribal district, all the tickets were distributed to weak candidates Noorul Haq Qadri and Iqbal Afridi. According to the report, MPA Shafiq did not support the PTI candidate

In Hangu, party tickets were awarded on recommendations of local MPAs but they lost. Bannu district is a stronghold of JUI-F and hometown of ex-chief minister Akram Durrani but despite that the PTI managed to win two tehsil seats.

Elections were postponed in one tehsil due to violence and rigging allegations. Provincial Minister Shah Muhammad did not support the PTI candidates there. In Tank, PTI lost both tehsil seats, where Ali Amin Gandapur had awarded the party tickets.

In Bajaur, PTI MNAs from the district did not support PTI candidates resulting in the loss of party candidates in the two tehsil mayor seats. MNA Gul Zafar was accused of supporting the independent candidate instead of PTI ticket holder.

MNA Gul Dad Khan and his brother, a sitting MPA of PTI, also went against the party candidates. According to the party report, Minister Anwar Zeb utilised all his resources in support of the PTI candidate. In Haripur district, PTI lost to the PML-N candidates, where Ayub brothers awarded PTI tickets in the district. In its report, the government has stated that besides other reasons, inflation, internal differences had also played key role in the PTI loss in the province.