LAHORE, Dec 26: Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf may witness ‘internal rift’ in National Assembly constituency NA-140, Kasur, from where both former foreign ministers and fresh recruits to PTI, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri and Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, want to contest the next general election.

Interestingly, each of the two political heavyweights is optimistic about getting a nod from PTI chairman Imran Khan with regard to ticket for the constituency.

Mr Ali, who got elected from NA-140 in 2008 election on Pakistan People’s Party ticket by defeating Mr Kasuri who was then in PML-Q, had deferred his decision to join the PTI recently while Mr Kasuri had announced on Dec 20 that he was switching over to the party, believing his ticket for the constituency had been ‘secured’.

However, Mr Ali informed Dawn on Monday that he wanted to contest next general election from the constituency that sent him to the lower house in 2008 and he would like that Mr Kasuri go for the adjoining constituency (NA-139).

“Kasuri sahib and I are friends. We were political rivals in the past but now we are united under the PTI banner. Kasuri sahib can contest in NA-139 where I also have a vote bank,” Mr Ali who was foreign minister in Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure (1993-1996) and had a short stint as education minister in the present government said.

Mr Ali, however, made it clear that it was the prerogative of PTI chairman Imran Khan to take final decision regarding award of tickets in the next elections.

To a question that whether he decided to join the PTI after witnessing its successful Karachi public meeting on Dec 25, the veteran politician said he was not happy with the policies of the PPP government on various issues including rental power projects and non-implementation of the apex court decisions, and was in contact with Mr Khan for some time.

“Because of some reasons (which he would not disclose) I had told Mr Khan to announce my inclusion in the PTI at Dec 25 public gathering in Karachi,” he said, adding he quitted the PPP after he got frustrated with its leadership.

On the other hand, Mr Kasuri is reportedly not happy over Mr Ali’s joining the PTI. He was quoted by his close circles as saying that Mr Ali should have first settled the ticket issue with Mr Khan and then jumped into the party.

“Mr Kasuri has demonstrated his public support in a big rally in his constituency (NA-140) and if Mr Ali thinks he too enjoys that kind of backing he should better hold a public meeting there to convince Mr Khan for the award of ticket,” a close friend of Mr Kasuri said.

Besides, he claimed Mr Kasuri had more influence in the PTI than Mr Ali’s. —  Zulqernain Tahir

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