PESHAWAR, March 30: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf is set to suffer a serious setback in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as majority of the aspirants denied ticket by it for national and provincial assembly seats are planning to join other parities, it is learnt.
Insiders told Dawn on Saturday that dozens of people had applied for PTI candidacy by depositing Rs20,000 for provincial and Rs30,000 for national assembly ticket each but most of them had been ignored.
There are also reports of the PTI workers planning to stage demonstrations and hold news conferences in their respective areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against the party’s parliamentary board for ignoring the ideological and founding members and accommodating wealthy and influential newcomers.
A source in PTI said the party had thrice extended the date for nomination papers from March 9 to 19 to motivate the maximum of the people to send money with nomination papers.
“Many people are waiting for the final list of candidates to appear on Monday (April 1). If they don’t get tickets, they’ll part ways with PTI,” he said.
The sources said the differences had surfaced after the leadership accepted entry of former national and provincial assembly members to PTI.
He added that many believed it was violation of basic philosophy of Imran Khan, who always spoke against such people and then welcomed them.
“We thought that the PTI will be the only ray of hope for the oppressed and disappointed people to bring about a positive socioeconomic, political and administrative change, but all that has turned out to be false. Like other parties, PTI is awarding tickets to the people on the basis of wealth,” the source said.
Zafarullah Khattak, a candidate for PK-1, Peshawar, told Dawn that he had been associated with PTI since its foundation and faced great hardships during the period but kept strengthening it, especially in far-flung areas.
He, however, said when it came to distribution of tickets for the next elections, the party neglected sincere workers.
“I have applied for the ticket and paid the money (Rs20,000) but the parliamentary board did not give me time to explain that I am a founding member of PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and did a lot for its welfare,” he said.
The disgruntled PTI activist said the party had begun exploiting workers as everyone was tempted to send money and submit papers for tickets.
“One can easily imagine enthusiasm of PTI workers for tickets that 68 people have sent papers for PK-8, Peshawar ticket only,” he said.
He said the party should refund the money to all those who were denied tickets and if that didn’t happen, they would move the court of law to get back the money.
Mr Khattak said some people, who had got tickets for elections, didn’t even live in their respective constituencies.
“I challenge PTI ticket holder for PK-I to name local union councils and speak about delimitations of the constituency,” he said and added that tickets were for influential people only.
Samad Mursalin, a candidate for PK-2, Peshawar-II said he wanted PTI chief Imran Khan to do justice and take decisions about award of tickets purely on merit.
Another PTI activist, Imtiaz Saeed of Pabbi, said Mr Imran had failed to keep his commitments he made during the Minar-i-Pakistan, Lahore public meeting to the disappointment of senior workers.
He said the people had given sacrifices to strengthen the party but they were ignored by the leadership.
Waqas Sethi, a candidate for PK-2, Peshawar, also demanded that the PTI central leadership take decisions about award of tickets on merit otherwise the party wouldn’t be able to win a single seat through unpopular candidates.
However, when contacted, provincial PTI General Secretary Shaukat Yousufzai rejected the perception that tickets were given to influential and wealthy people only.
Referring to many fielded by the party for next elections in the province, he said they all were poor people.
“It is a big plus of the party that it ignored wealthy people, including Hashim Babar and Yasin Khalil, in Peshawar despite the fact that they are richer than other aspirants,” he said.
Mr Yousufzai said the exit of those parting ways with PTI over denial of tickets would make no difference as the party was an ideological party and its workers were fully committed to bringing a change in the system of the country.
“We have set some conditions for candidates like he/she should be educated, loyal to the party, popular with the people and honest,” he said.
The PTI general secretary said final list of candidates would be issued after a meeting today (Monday) and all party people were bound to accept it.