PESHAWAR/CHITRAL, March 26: The distribution of tickets among the candidates of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has deepened rift in the party as many disgruntled applicants have decided to contest the upcoming elections independently in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Insiders say that after announcing names of its candidates, it will not be easy for provincial chapter of PPP to achieve its target of getting 20 to 30 seats of provincial assembly. “The disgruntled workers have already started holding meetings to devise plans,” they said.
A number of local leaders of PPP from Peshawar, Dir, Dargai, Batkhela, Timergara and Chakdara told Dawn by telephone that separate meetings of disgruntled workers were held and some of them planned to meet on Wednesday to make a decision about fielding independent candidates or support the candidates of opponent parities. They alleged that Najamuddin Khan and Anwar Saifullah Khan, members of PPP provincial parliamentary board, had not done justice with workers.
They said that all the influential leaders got tickets for their family members and deprived deserving people of getting tickets. They said that former speaker of National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi got a ticket from D.I. Khan and managed to get another National Assembly ticket for his brother Ahmed Khundi from Tank.
Similarly, they said, former provincial minister Sher Azam Wazir got a National Assembly ticket and awarded a provincial assembly ticket to his son Fakhr Azam Khan. Former minister Najamuddin Khan got ticket for National Assembly from Dir Upper and awarded provincial assembly ticket to his son Shakirullah.
They said that Syed Zahir Ali Shah, another member of PPP parliamentary board, got ticket for PK-2 Peshawar-II while his sister was already a senator. They said that senior leaders including Yawar Naseer, Tahir Abbas and Saeed Ahmed Khan had also applied from PK-2 Peshawar-II ticket but they were ignored.
They said that Anwar Saifullah got ticket for a National Assembly seat from Bannu and another for provincial assembly from Lakki Marwat-I while awarded a National Assembly ticket from Lakki Marwat to his brother Hamayun Saifullah Khan in addition to another to another provincial assembly seat from the same district.
PPP provincial president Anwar Saifullah, however, said that there was no rift in the party as tickets were allotted on merit. He said that workers were bound to follow the party policy otherwise disciplinary action would be taken against them.
However, PPP workers in Peshawar expressed deep anguish over allotment of National Assembly ticket to Azam Afridi. The candidate had even not applied for the seat, they said. “He was interested in a provincial assembly seat but the parliamentary board took a wrong decision. We will support Zulfiqar Afghani for the seat,” said a PPP activist.
Zulfiqar Afghani, when contacted, said that he was in Karachi to attend a conference and didn’t have latest information. “But it is clear that workers are not happy with the decision taken by the party leadership,” he said.
Mr Afghani said he had applied for NA-I Pehsawar-1 but he was not taken into confidence and the ticket was given to Azam Afridi. “I admit that Azam Afridi is our senior but he had not applied for the seat,” he said.
Another aspiring candidate said that party leadership had assured them that every district organisation would suggest names of candidates but the promise was not materialised.
“It is just power game and middle class people have now no place in the party. That’s why many senior leaders had not applied for tickets,” he said. PPP office-bearers in Chitral have also rejected the names of the party candidates for two provincial and one National Assembly seat in the district and tendered resignations as a protest.
Addressing a press conference, PPP district senior vice president Haider Abbas, vice president Kashafat Younas, information secretary Shah Murad Baig, former district naib nazim Sultan Shah, former teshsil nazim Sartaj Ahmed Khan and others expressed dissatisfaction over the party decision. They said that all the three candidates were not acceptable to workers as they were handpicked without consulting the PPP activists.