TOBA TEK SINGH: In a dramatic move, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) cancelled on Thursday the ticket it had granted to Rana Muhammad Shafiq for PP-89 by-election and declared independent candidate Syeda Sonia Raza as the PTI-supported candidate.

Ms Sonia is the daughter of the late PML-N MPA Makhdoom Ali Raza after whose death the seat fell vacant and the by-election is being held on the seat on Jan 6. Sonia wanted the PML-N ticket but the party awarded its ticket to Pir Ali Baba. She refused to support Baba and contacted the PTI leadership for a ticket.

However, the PTI also gave the ticket to Rana Shafiq, a PPP candidate from the same seat in 2013 general election, and Sonia decided to contest the by-election as an independent candidate. The decision had created a rift in the PTI ranks with former MNA and PTI human rights wing central chief Riaz Fatyana refusing to accept the decision as he started election campaign for Sonia.

Talking to Dawn, Riaz Fatyama claimed that PTI chairman Imran Khan, Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mahmood Qureshi discussed with him the ticket issue and on his (Fatyana’s) request, Imran cancelled the ticket for Rana Shafiq, declaring Sonia as PTI-supported candidate.

He added PTI Punjab organiser Chaudhry Sarwar had called Sonia at his nephew Dr Kashaf Riaz’s house in Pirmahal on Wednesday night and apprised her of the party’s decision.

Imran Khan is expected to address a public meeting at Pirmahal for Sonia on Jan 4.

Meanwhile, Rana Shafiq refused to accept the PTI’s decision and told his workers in his election office on Thursday evening that he would contest election at all costs. He said he would contest the by-poll as independent candidate and would not accept any pressure from the PTI or the PML-N to withdraw in favour of their candidates.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2016