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LAHORE: After not being given a “go ahead” for Punjab chief minister slot, reportedly by his uncle Nawaz Sharif, MNA Hamza Shahbaz had to suffer another setback when the seven-year-old case of Ayesha Ahad, who claims to be wife of the ruling family scion, recently resurfaced to haunt him again.

Since Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is fully backing Ms Ahad to get her ‘justice’, Hamza seems to be in hot water, finding it hard to clear his name in the scam that had almost been forgotten by the media as well as the public.

The PTI on Sunday declared that it would raise “Hamza-Ayesha” marriage issue in the National Assembly and ensure that she gets justice.

“We will fully cooperate with the parliamentary committee (constituted) in the Ayesha Gulalai case, but at the same time we (will also) make sure that a similar treatment be meted out to Ms Ahad as her ‘marriage and torture’ complaint involves an MNA (Hamza) and comes under the purview of the parliament,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn here on Sunday.

Regretting, what he called, the trend of using women for politics, Mr Chaudhry said the PML-N was good at it. “The PML-N has been doing so since 1990s against its political opponents; be it Imran Khan or Benazir Bhutto,” he added.

When asked as to why the PTI followed the suit, Fawad Chaudhry said: “We did not. In fact Ms Ahad had contacted some PTI women and sought their help in raising her issue in the current scenario, hoping that she might get justice this time around. Had her complaint against Hamza got heard seven years ago she would not have been seeking justice today.”

The PTI spokesman said the newly-elected Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, should also treat Ms Ahad’s matter the way he had taken interest in Ms Gulalai’s case.

“This environment of mudslinging suits the Sharifs as they are mired in corruption cases and desperately need shift of the focus on something else,” he added.

On the other hand, Ms Ahad rejected the speculations that she was joining the PTI. “I have sought the PTI support to raise my issue after seeing quick response by the prime minister to the complaint of MNA Ayesha Gulalai. I also want a parliamentary committee probe of my case like that of Ms Gulalai,” Ms Ahad said talking to Dawn.

Ms Ahad alleged that Mr Hamza “secretly” contracted marriage with her in 2010, but later “unceremoniously abandoned her”. “I was tortured by Punjab police for disclosing our marriage. Nawaz Sharif also knew about our marriage,” she claimed.

She said she was also filing a reference against Mr Hamza this week, contending that by “concealing his marriage with her” the MNA was no more “Sadiq and Amin” and should be disqualified. “I have requested the PTI to file another reference with the National Assembly speaker against Hamza on similar grounds,” she said.

To a question, as why after seven years she was raising the issue of her “secret marriage”, Ms Ahad said: “Ms Gulalai’s issue provided her (Ms Ahad) a chance to heal her old wounds.”

Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Sunday used offensive language against Ms Ahad for what he said “making false claim of her marriage with Hamza”. He said she was keen to take financial benefits out of this.

Reacting to the accusations, Ms Ahad said she would file a Rs1 billion defamation suit against Rana Sanaullah for leveling ‘serious allegations” against her.

Mr Hamza’s spokesman Imran Goraiya said Ms Ahad had been “launched” by the PTI to counter Ms Gulalai’s harassment allegations against Imran Khan. “Ayesha Ahad had moved the court against Hamza Shahbaz a few years ago but she failed to prove her claim which turned out to be false and unfounded,” he said.

Mr Goraiya further said the PTI could not run away from Gulalai’s case by bringing in Ms Ahad. “PTI had created this character in 2013 election and now the party was again pitching her against the PML-N leadership,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2017