RAWALPINDI: Though it is welcoming turncoats from PPP and PML-N, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is also worried about losing its leaders, and is seeking assurance on affidavits from applicants for party tickets that they will not join other parties in case they are refused the tickets.

The party has asked all those who have applied for tickets for contesting elections to the national and provincial assemblies to submit assurances to not oppose the party decision on the allocation of tickets.

All applicants have submitted their affidavits to the party office on stamp paper worth Rs100 stating they would not oppose the party decision or leave the PTI or start a campaign against its candidates.

A senior PTI leader told Dawn that the party was divided in different groups and that the leadership wanted to take a decision on awarding tickets without pressure from any group which was why it wanted the assurances in writing.

PTI is worried about losing its own leaders while welcoming turncoats from other parties

“We submitted the affidavit to the party along with Rs50,000 fee for a provincial assembly ticket and Rs100,000 for a ticket for the National Assembly,” he said.

Another party leader told Dawn that assurances in writing would not be effective as the party was divided in three or four groups in main cities such as Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

He said the local leaders had already started campaigning against Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a close aide of Imran Khan, who announced to contest the elections on two seats in the Rawalpindi city while Imran Khan would contest from the cantonment areas.

“A former office-bearer of PTI Punjab north is running a separate campaign through his supporters in the cantonment areas against party leaders as he was refused a ticket.”

He added that the party would be divided further in the four districts of Rawalpindi division and Islamabad if tickets were given to newcomers.

“In Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the PTI only managed to bring MPA Shehryar Riaz who had no worth in his constituency while in the ruling PML-N due to his behaviour with workers,” he said.

“There will be no issue on the National Assembly seats as two of the seats will be contested by Sheikh Rashid and one by Imran Khan. People will fight for the provincial assembly seats,” he said.

In Punjab north, the party conducted interviews of more than 382 aspiring candidates for the national and provincial assemblies from the eight districts from Sargodha to Attock, including the twin cities.

As many as 17 candidates appeared for Sargodha’s National Assembly constituency and 52 for the provincial assembly. Six applied for the NA ticket in Khushab and 25 for the provincial assembly and three candidates applied for NA seats in Chakwal and 19 for the Punjab assembly.

In Rawalpindi, 30 candidates have applied for NA seats and 141 applications were received for Punjab Assembly seats. A total of 13 women have applied for tickets from north Punjab.

PTI formed a five-member committee to conduct interviews of the candidates. The committee is led by PTI Punjab north President Amir Kiani and consists of Attaullah Shadikhel, Haroon Hashmi, Qazi Ahmed Akbar and Raja Tariq.

The committee will send its report to the parliamentary board regarding basic information about the candidates and their loyalty towards the party. If the candidate comes from another party, the report will also contain past allegations against them.

PTI Punjab north president told Dawn that the party had sought assurance from candidates in writing in order to avoid grouping within the party on the issue of tickets.

He said Imran Khan and the parliamentary board would take the final decision for awarding tickets.

Mr Kiani said 382 candidates had applied for the PTI tickets in eight districts in Punjab north from Khushab to Attock, including Rawalpindi. He said the candidates in the three constituencies of Islamabad would be finalised after this.

Sitting MPAs have also applied for their constituencies and there are also newcomers in the party, he added, and that everyone would respect the party decision.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2018