RAWALPINDI, April 21: It is known that former opposition leader in the National Assembly and PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will contest elections for the National Assembly seat from Rawalpindi with PML-N.
However, now he has decided to also participate in the provincial assembly elections from Rawalpindi PP-6 with the election symbol of cow as an independent candidate.
Apparently, such an arrangement has been arrived at due to differences between the former MPA of PML-N from the area and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. It has been learnt that Chaudhry Nisar requested the PML-N to not give the ticket to either of the candidates (himself or the former MPA) for the PP-6 seat.
A party source told Dawn that Chaudhry Nisar wanted to contest elections against Raja Basharat and PPP’s Barrister Bilal Khokhar, nephew of former Deputy Speaker Nawaz Khokhar. He explained that Chaudhary Nisar wanted to defeat both the candidates since they were turncoats of PML-N.
Chaudhry Nisar is contesting from NA-52 Rawalpindi, NA-53 Taxila and two provincial assembly seats, PP-6 Rawalpindi and PP-7 Taxila.
PP-6 consists of areas surrounding Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Shakrial, Chaklala Scheme-III, Chaudhry Bostan Khan Road, Morgah and Dhamial.
In the 2002 elections, PML-N candidate Raja Arshad Mehmood won the provincial seat with 19,079 votes. Among other candidates, Jaffar Hussain Shah of PPPP got 6,464 votes, while PML-Q’s Raja Basharat won 14,701 votes, Major (R) Munir Azam of MMA got 6,119 votes and Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Ch. Mazhar Abbas secured 1,897 votes.
The PML-N managed to hold on to this seat in the elections of 2008 and its candidate Sarfraz Afzal secured 40626 votes. PML-Q's Raja Basharat secured 17,771 votes, PPPP's Jaffar Hussain Shah obtained 16,787 votes, Yasir Raza got 165 votes and Qari Mohammad Ziaul Haq Haqani secured 1,056 votes.
This shows that traditionally this seat has been a source of victory for the PML-N. However, this time, differences among top leaders have forced the PML-N to leave the seat open and Chaudhry Nisar, a close confidant of Nawaz Sharif, also failed to get the party ticket.
However, both Ch. Nisar and the former MPA from PML-N submitted their nomination papers for this seat and refused to withdraw the nomination papers from this constituency. The election commission then issued election symbol of cow to Chaudhry Nisar and Sarfraz Afzal was allotted the election symbol of bucket and both are taking part in the elections for this seat as independent candidates.
Both candidates held on to their decision to take part in the elections for PP-6 and after the last date to withdraw the nomination papers on April 18 passed, Chaudhry Tanveer stepped in and held a meeting with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Sarfraz Afzaal on Sunday evening, where the latter announced his withdrawal from the elections in favour of Sarfraz Afzal.
“The basic aim of the jirga was to convince Sarfraz Afzal to withdraw his candidature so that the party contests the elections on a united front,” a local party leader who attended the meeting told Dawn.
He said that former MPA Sarfraz Afzal was told according to instructions from party chief Nawaz Sharif that he would be compensated if decided to withdraw in favour of Chaudhry Nisar. Earlier, the source revealed, that the former MPA was not agreeing but his uncle Chaudhry Tanveer managed to persuade him otherwise.
When contacted, former MPA Sarfraz Afzal confirmed that he will not contest elections against Chaudhry Nisar. “Chaudhry sahib is a senior leader and being junior I decided to retire,” he explained.
Mr Afzal added that he and his family will help run the election campaign for PML-N and its leaders in the garrison city, especially in the area of NA-52 and PP-6. However, he refused to answer questions about differences between him and Chaudhry Nisar saying his first focus was to help PML-N win.
When contacted, PML-N Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq told Dawn that the party had allowed Chaudhry Nisar to contest the election from PP-6. “The seat was open with mutual understanding and Chaudhry Tanveer’s nephew retired from the election in favour of Nisar,” he said.
To a question, he said there was no difference in the party leaders over the ticket issue and the seat was open with mutual understanding.