PESHAWAR, May 20: As there are indications that Imran Khan is vacating NA-1 seat, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf activists have begun lobbying to get the party ticket for by-election in the Peshawar constituency.
According to insiders, the ticket may go to someone from among the party’s old workers, many of whom lost the intra-party elections.
They say more than 20 activists encouraged by the May 11 election results, especially in Peshawar district will apply for the ticket in case the PTI chairman vacates the seat.
At the time of elections, many alleged that PTI awarded ticket mostly to elected leaders and their nominees sidelining those who remained associated with PTI through thick and thin.
However, Imran Khan decided to contest from NA-1, Peshawar to the jubilation of estranged workers.
Insiders said ideological workers would pressure the elected members of the Peshawar district and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to award the party’s ticket to some diehard activist to be supported by other workers so that the seat could be retained.
A senior local PTI leader said 50 per cent election tickets were given to the people, who didn’t fulfil the candidature criteria but activists didn’t object to it at the crucial time.
He said some new entrants, who had secured key positions in the party’s election, were trying to get the ticket and if they succeeded, then it would shake the confidence of sincere activists in leadership.
The PTI leader said the party central leadership had realised the issues that emerged during the award of election tickets and would now ensure that the right person was named for NA-1 seat.
He said the party should hold interviews to look into the services and contributions of applicants for the party, and their statures and capabilities to take a decision on the award of the NA-1 ticket on merit.
When contacted, former president of PTI city district Zafarullah Khattak said: “We have been working in NA-1 from two and a half years. Imran Khan received 90,500 votes and defeated senior ANP leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, who had won the seat four times. Once, Bilour defeated Benazir Bhutto from here.”
Mr Khattak, who is also a candidate for the NA-1 ticket, said he was confident that PTI would secure the seat again if the party chief vacated it.
“The voters’ confidence in PTI has been proven. Imran Khan is happy over the voters’ response to his call for Naya Pakistan. He is jubilant over the election results. He would want the party to retain it in case of his vacating it,” he said.
Mr Khattak, who met Imran Khan at the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Lahore on Sunday, said the party chief was fast recovering and would move to Islamabad in the next few days.
Enraged by the party’s decision to deny him ticket for PK-1 in the election, he said he didn’t lose heart and played vital part in the party candidates’ victory in the city.
“After the election results, Imran Khan has become quite sensitive about the enthusiasm and spirit of the people and will take decisions on merit in awarding ticket for by-polls,” he said.
He said it was he who first requested Imran Khan to contest elections from Peshawar two years ago and he obliged.
“We showed it to the world that the enthusiasm of PTI workers could not be defeated,” he said.