ISLAMABAD, April 7: On Sunday morning, 250 PTI workers gathered in front of party chief Imran Khan's Bani Gala home, protesting "discrimination" against workers in the allotment of party nominations. They claim that this is not the first time the party has ignored workers' wishes and the results of intra-party elections when nominating candidates for the general election.
When they arrived at Khan's home at 11am, the workers, from Kotli Sattian and Murree, were told that the man himself was in Lahore. The information prompted them to begin a sit-in, chanting slogans in favor of the candidate who they say deserves the party's nomination for the PP-1 seat.
The candidate in question is Major (retired) Latosab Satti, who says that his "time, finances and door-to-door campaign" increased the party's popularity and presence in PP-1.
"Awarding the ticket to someone else will damage the party's reputation and image," he says, since office bearers in local union councils had selected him as the nominee for the Provincial Assembly, along with Sadaqat Ali Abbasi, for the National Assembly.
A worker from the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Qasim Satti, explained that there are 25 Union Councils represented by the PP-1 seat. Latosab Satti's group, he says, "won at the Union Council level, then at the tehsil level, and then at the district level" in intra-party elections.
"The party's north region and provincial management recommended that Latosab Satti get the ticket for PP-1." The group had begun preparing his campaign when Javed Iqbal Satti arrived in Kotli Sattian and began campaigning, claiming that Imran Khan had assured him he would get the ticket.
Javed Iqbal Satti's pronouncement angered workers for many reasons. Although he is a native of the region, according to party worker Atique ur Rehman, "he only visits during elections". He added that in the past, Javed had contested elections for the PPP, the PML-Q, and as an independent, losing every time.
Union council president Dr Fayyaz Satti added that Javed Iqbal had joined the PTI only 45 days ago. The general secretary of the tehsil, Muhammad Yasir, said that "not a single elected body was in Javed Iqbal's favour." Even a local Senior Vice President for the party, Raja Kamran, acknowledged the shock to PTI workers.
"At the time of intra-party elections," he said, "we were told that members would be able to elect their leadership," which was "a dream come true" for the workers. The arrival of hand-picked candidates for party tickets, however, had demoralised them. Another vice president, Muhammad Wasim, added that local office-bearers would resign from their positions if their wishes were not considered, though they would not quit the party.
Party workers mentioned that this was not the first time that they had had to protest the unfair allotment of tickets, which they call "a violation of the party manifesto." According to worker Khaleel Hussain, party workers protested about similar issues last week in Karachi and Faisalabad. In central Punjab, their wishes were being ignored in favour of "influential personalities."
The problem is present in Rawalpindi as well.
According to Malik Amjad, "Raja Jamshed was the strongest candidate for PP-11, because his group won from 16 UCs." The PP-11 ticket, however, was awarded to Rashid Hafeez, who hadn't participated in the UC elections.
After protesting in Bani Gala, the workers reached the PTI Central Secretariat, in G-6, at 2:30pm, where they began another sit-in. Ninety minutes later, Amir Kiani, a member of the Review Board of Tickets, contacted them to recommend filing a written complaint. He promised that the issue would be resolved within 48 hours.
The PTI's Media Coordinator, Muhammad Rizwan, reiterated the message. "Amir Mehmood Kiani has been dealing with Rawalpindi tickets," he said. "He has received a written complaint, and the issue will be resolved within a day or two."