ISLAMABAD: Oddly, PML-N workers were seen out on the city streets on Wednesday against their local leadership in the run-up to the local government election, when rivals were busy campaigning for their candidates.

Led by Ashraf Gujjar advocate, the angry PML-N workers converged at the National Press Club shouting slogans and berating the local PML-N leaders as land grabbers and land mafia.

“They (the Islamabad PML-N leaders) are all working for personal benefits not that of the party, which faces a repeat of the debacle the PML-N suffered in the 2013 general elections and the by-elections in NA-48,” Mr Gujjar later told a press conference inside the club. He himself was a candidate in that by-election.

Workers accuse Anjum Aqeel and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry of awarding tickets to relatives

His main grievance was that sitting PML-N MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry of Islamabad and Anjum Aqeel, former PML-N MNA returned from NA-48, imposed their choices on the party’s ticket-awarding committee, of which he was also a member, in nominating PML-N candidates for the local government election.

Other members sided with their choices because “everyone in the committee was a property dealer, except me. Malik Ibrar, sitting MNA of the party from Rawalpindi and a member of the committee, has stakes in land deals in Meharabadi area,” said Mr Gujjar, adding that he conveyed his concerns about their ‘malafide intentions’ to the top leadership of the PML-N.

“Since there is no complaint cell in PML-N, we decided to come out in the open to tell people, with clear conscience, that we are not part of this land mafia group,” he said.

“I say that people of good reputation and without cases against them should be brought forward,” he said. “This group of land grabbers flouted the party’s decision that the committee members will not award tickets to relatives.”

Malik Shujaur Rehman, secretary general of PML-N Islamabad, reeled off the details.

“They all have shady records,” he said, alleging that Chaudhry Matloob, awarded the party ticket for the office of chairman of Chak Shahzad and Chatta Bakhtawar, is maternal uncle of Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

“On April 10, FIR 38/2015 was lodged in Bani Gala police station against him by Liaquat Ali, caretaker of the farm house belonging to Justice Farrukh Irfan of Lahore High Court. Liaquat lodged another FIR against him for attacking him but Chaudhry Matloob is moving around without bail and police have done nothing.”

Ashraf Gujjar claimed that Dr Tariq “grew rich in very short time, although his father was a small landowner, and presented a list of alleged illegal activities of people close to Dr Tariq Fazal”.

Some other workers spoke about ‘the past record’ of Anjum Aqeel, highlighting that his cousin Tahir Khan has been awarded a ticket for chairman’s office.

Malik Shuja claimed Malik Ibrar of Rawalpindi was purposely put in the ticket-awarding committee for Islamabad LG polls because he was close to both Anjum Aqeel and Dr Tariq Fazal in his property business in D-12 sector and Tarnol area.

“Wajid Ayub, brother in-law of Malik Ibrar has been awarded ticket for chairman UC in Tarnol area, though he joined the PML-N in 2013 after quitting the PPP,” he said.

And committee member Sajid Abassi is facing cases involving land grabbing near Tarnol, he said, citing FIR 150/2012 lodged under section 302.

“Committee member Mehtab Ahmed Khan himself became a candidate in UC in I-9, ignoring diehard, dedicated party workers,” Malik Shuja said.

“They awarded tickets to outsiders in Sarai Khurbuza and Kirpa areas instead of party workers. This will only give leverage to the PTI candidates there.”

PML-N leaders Khawaja Khalil Salar of I-9 Markaz, and Chaudhary Saeed of Karachi Company and others decried the delimitation of constituencies in Islamabad and said that urban Union Councils (UC) are at a population of 18,000 to 24,000 but the rural UCs range between 12,000 and 16,000.

“This is unfair with the urban population as they have less representation in the Islamabad council,” said one of the office-bearers of the party belonging to F-10 area.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2015

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