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CHAKWAL: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders and workers on Tuesday held internal party rifts and lack of development projects responsible for the setback the party received in the recent local government elections in Chakwal district.

The PML-N, which swept all six seats of the national and the provincial assemblies in the general elections of 2013, could win only 28 union councils out of 68 while the independents mostly led by Sardar Ghulam Abbas, the rival of the Nawaz League, grabbed 33 union councils. PML-N could only win 148 seats of general members while the independents secured 214 seats.

The party also lost the municipal committee of Kallar Kahar to Sardar Ghulam Abbas Group, municipal committee of Bhoun to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and municipal committee of Talagang to PML-Q.

Now it has to win at least eight newly elected chairmen, who won the elections as independent candidates, to grab the chairmanship of the district council.  

MPA Zulifqar Ali Khan Dullah and senator retired Lt-Gen Abdul Qayum lost their own union councils to Sardar Ghulam Abbas while five times elected MPA Chauhdry Liaquat Ali Khan who is also the district president of the PML-N and his wife Iffat Liaquat who is a sitting MNA lost the elections in their own ward to Moeen Akram, a young man who contested the election as an independent candidate for the first time.

“It is true that the party faced a setback in the recent elections,” admits 96-years-old retired Lt-Gen Abdul Majeed Malik, the sole central figure of the PML-N in Chakwal who elected MNA for five consecutive times and also served twice as federal minister. He blamed internal rifts and lack of coordination within the party for the defeat.

The PML-N has nine parliamentarians (two elected MNAs, four elected MPAs, one MNA and one MPA on reserved seats and one senator) and an adviser to the chief minister of Punjab from Chakwal district yet it does not have its office in Chakwal. All the local parliamentarians act as the self-proclaimed kings in their spheres. The voters and supporters of the party have to go to the houses of these parliamentarians with their grievances and problems.

The party is divided into groups. For example in NA 61 constituency MPA Sardar Zulifqar Ali Khan Dullah and MNA Sardar Mumtaz Khan Tamman are on the same page while Malik Saleem Iqbal former MPA and current adviser to the Punjab chief minister and MPA Malik Zahoor Anwar have severe differences with MPA Sardar Zulifqar Ali Khan Dullah.

Besides, party’s workers and local observers find fault with the distribution of tickets. “Every parliamentarian was allowed to give tickets to his/her own trusted men. And all of this happened because on ground the party does not have an organisational structure,” says Yunus Awan, a senior local journalist.

Senior advocate Syed Ziaul Hassan Zaidi who served the party as district president believes that the PML-N badly needs reorganisation.

MPA Mehvish Sultana also admits that the results were not up to the expectations while provincial minister Malik Tanvir Aslam agrees that the results were not as per the expectations.

Losing Talagang municipal committee to PML-Q is mainly because of improper attribution of tickets by the MPA, Sardar Zulifqar Dullah.

“Yes the party failed to show good results and it all happened due to internal rifts,” agrees MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman.

Besides, the PML-N government in Punjab has not given a single mega project to the people of Chakwal.

“The government’s apathy towards the development of Chakwal could be gauged from the fact that a little portion of the city’s major road, which connects the city to district complex, has been lying unrepaired for the last six months,” says a worker, adding in such a situation the party should be ready to face voters’ wrath.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2015

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