RAWALPINDI, May 22: For Hanif Abbasi, the battle for NA-56 is not over as he is still in the field in the hope that Therik-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan would vacate the seat.
Abbasi’s residence in Satellite Town is frequented by voters and supporters where the PML-N leader receives and talks to them.
Spokesperson for PTI Dr Sherin Mezari and some local party leaders have given a broad hint that Imran Khan, who has won three seats, is thinking to keep Mianwali and vacate Peshawar and Rawalpindi.
Though PTI and PML-N have not finalised their candidates for NA-56 by-election, Hanif Abbasi would definitely try his luck as, according to him, he ‘would teach a lesson’ to PTI in the election.
“I strongly believe that some hidden forces have defeated me in NA-56 but if I am given one more chance, I would defeat the forces and the PTI,” Mr Abbasi told Dawn on Wednesday.
He is determined to clinch the seat and according to him, his win in by-poll would put an end to the popularity of PTI.
“I am still campaigning. I am in touch with the residents of the area. People still approach me for their problems. I would continue to serve the people, even if I am not an MNA,” he maintained.
He blames a heavyweight of PML-N in Rawalpindi for his defeat as, according to him, he gave covert support to PTI candidate, the issue he had discussed with Shahbaz Sharif, during his visit to him a week back.
“I have been robbed by my own people. I cannot name the PML-N leader but he had even sponsored installation of PTI’s banners in my constituency. This is a really a setback for PML-N and me,” Abbasi told Dawn and declined to name the PML-N leader.
But things are not smooth for Mr Abbasi. Residents in NA-56 who have voted for PTI are still determined to once again vote for Imran Khan’s candidate in the by-poll accusing that Hanif Abbasi is behind Pashtun-Punjabi division in the area.
Majority of Pashtun population reside in NA-56 and have registered their votes in the constituency and in the past they would vote for Sheikh Rashid instead of Mr Abbasi.
“During his last election speech, Hanif Abbasi had boastfully said that ‘scavengers’ are too weak to defeat him,” Yunus Khan, 31, a shopkeeper in Mohanpura complained and added that outsiders including Kashmiris, Pashtuns and even minority groups were not happy with the attitude of Abbasi.
However, Mr Abbasi refutes this notion and says that he respects ethnic and minority groups in the town.
PTI leader in Rawalpindi and former District Nazim Tariq Kiani asserted that NA-56 would remain a stronghold of PTI no matter even if it is contested by someone other than Imran Khan.
“People will vote for Bat and will reject Tiger,” he added.