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Gujjar finally emerges as PML-N candidate

Updated August 15, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Aug 14: The controversy within the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) over award of ticket finally ended after Anjum Aqeel Khan withdrew from the election race on Wednesday.

Ashraf Gujjar, Advocate, is once again the party candidate from NA-48 constituency.

In a late night development, Anjum Aqeel took the decision after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself intervened and asked him to withdraw his candidature.

“Anjum Aqeel has announced that he is withdrawing his candidature from the elections,” PML-N Islamabad president and MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said, adding that Mr Khan would follow the party discipline.

When Anjum Aqeel was contacted, he confirmed that he was withdrawing from the election race. However, he denied that he took the decision following a telephone call from the Prime Minister House.

“I had reports that Nawaz Sharif was not happy with the confusion prevailing in the party over the award of ticket, and was reluctant to sign my ticket. I therefore took the decision in the larger interest of the party,” he added.

Hectic consultations continued throughout the day after the Election Commission of Pakistan allowed Anjum Aqeel to contest the by-elections on August 22.

Ashraf Gujjar met Hamza Shahbaz at Punjab House after rumours were making rounds that the party would be fielding Anjum Aqeel in the election, sources said.

The lengthy meeting was also attended by Anjum Aqeel, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and MNA Malik Abrar.

During the meeting everyone persuaded Mr Gujjar to withdraw from the race.

Mr Gujjar left the meeting dejected and informed his supporters at his election office that he might withdraw from the elections, but vowed “to expose mafias operating within the party”.

The sources said Hamza Shahbaz was to announce the candidature of Anjum Aqeel at a corner meeting in E-11 on Wednesday evening, but he could not do so after Mr Gujjar refused to withdraw from the race.

It may be mentioned here that the PML-N’s media centre had issued a statement attributed to the party’s secretary-general, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, on Monday saying that Ashraf Gujjar was the final party candidate from NA-48.

Sources said the statement had been issued by the party’s media centre on the directives of “someone from the Prime Minister House” and Mr Jhagra was just informed about it.