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SAHIWAL: The PML-N has awarded party ticket for NA-162 by-election to Tufail Jutt, ex-tehsil nazim of Chichawatni and elder brother of two ruling party MPAs from Chichawatni -- Arshad Jutt (PP-225) and Hanif Jutt (PP-226).

The ticket announcement was made by Rao Nazir Farid, PML-N’s Sahiwal district general secretary, while talking to media here on Friday. The ballot is scheduled for Sept 19.

Tufail was among three candidates who had applied for the PML-N ticket. Other contenders were Ch Zahid Iqbal and Haji Muhammad Ayub. Local observers believe Jutts are now more close to the Sharifs.

Hailing from Arain clan, Ch Zahid Iqbal had ditched PPP during the 2013 general election and got PML-N ticket for this seat. At that time the Jutts struggled hard but could not prevail upon the Sharifs.

Zahid Iqbal’s candidature was challenged by PTI’s Rai Hasan Nawaz for possessing dual nationality and he was ultimately disqualified. His covering candidate Haji Ayub contested election but lost to Rai Hasan by a margin of 10,000 votes.

Haji Ayub challenged Rai Hasan’s victory under articles 62-63 for concealing his assets and a bank default loan while filing his nomination papers. The Supreme Court disqualified the PTI candidate.

Disqualified by the apex court, Rai Hasan Nawaz and Ch Zahid Iqbal applied for their ‘party’ tickets with their own covering candidates. While filing their nominations for the upcoming by-poll, Rai Hasan Nawaz and Ch Zahid Iqbal submitted representations against each other for rejection of their nomination papers on the basis of their disqualification by the Supreme Court.

Rana Abdul Ghaffar, NA-162 returning officer, confirmed that in the light of representations he had rejected their nomination papers. Later, they withdrew their representations and the ECP allowed them to contest.

Since both the candidates did this under a ‘compromise’, Haji Ayub, 2013 runner-up and now strong supporter of Jutt brothers, filed an application with the local ECP office for being a candidate for by-poll and sought rejection of nomination papers of Rai Hasan Nawaz and Ch Zahid Iqbal on the basis of SC orders.

Accepting his plea, RO Rana Abdul Ghaffar rejected their nomination papers on Friday. It is said that `Jutt brothers’ were behind the Haji Ayub move.

The PML-N district president said it was in this background that party high command decided to award ticket to Haji Tufail. A party official in Chichawatni said the PML-N high command was sure that Ch Zahid’s nomination papers would be rejected on legal grounds.

Rai Hasan Nawaz had already filed Rai Murtaza’s nomination papers as a covering candidate and it is expected that PTI will award him the ticket if Rai Hasan’s appeal in the Lahore High Court, Multan Bench, against local ECP decision is rejected on Monday.

RO Rana Abdul Gaffar said now seven candidates were contesting the election. Among them, Shahzad Saeed Cheema is the PPP candidate.

If Tufail Jutt wins the by-poll, it will be first time in Pakistan’s constitutional history that two younger brothers are MPAs in the Punjab Assembly and their elder brother is MNA from the same city, on same party ticket.

Local political observers say during 2013 election Haji Ayub card was played by Ch Zahid Iqbal for getting Rai Hasan Nawaz disqualified and now Jutt brothers used the same man for ousting Ch Zahid iqbal and Rai Hasan Nawaz from the ballot.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2016