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LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday finalised candidates against 62pc seats in Punjab, with 38pc seats still open for discussion and a decision.

Of the 297 Punjab Assembly seats, the PTI’s parliamentary board chaired by party chairman Imran Khan finalised 185 candidates. The board is expected to decide candidates on the remaining 112 seats after further consultations and surveys being conducted in the respective constituencies.

Although the PTI leadership was propagating that no one was being taken in party fold with a ticket commitment, it is learnt, around 40pc tickets have gone to new entrants.

The party candidates’ finalised list has dampened the hopes of many potential candidates reckoned as the real face of the PTI.

“We are highly demoralised as the PTI face has been ousted and turncoats given party tickets,” a disgruntled candidate said.

Rumblings of discontent among those left out

Referring to those who recently joined the party, a loyalist asked “weather the party face has changed and will create Naya Pakistan.”

The party worker said they had no problem with the turncoats’ joining the party until they became decision makers. He said most such candidates were from south Punjab.

With regard to five per cent seats for women, the party has awarded only four tickets to women candidates out of 185 seats. Interestingly, Nazia Raheel, who had been given ticket for PP-122 (Toba Tek Singh), came up saying she never applied for a PTI ticket. Three other candidates are: Muzammal Masood Bhatti (PP-175 Kasur-II), Sonia alias Aaleen Fatima (PP-123 Toba Tek Singh) and Rashda Yaqoob (PP-126 Jhang).

A potential woman candidate said the party’s parliamentary board did not pay much regard to its women workers and did not fulfill its commitment of giving five per cent seats to women.

“Now the party leadership will ask women workers to submit their nomination papers in those constituencies where they won’t find winning candidates,” she regretted.

There are some instances where new entrants have not been given tickets. Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa from D.G. Khan, who had recently joined the party along with his grandsons, has been given one seat each in the National and Punjab Assembly constituencies. Sardar Khosa is being quoted as saying the party chairman had committed that two National and three Punjab Assembly seats would be given to his family.

PML-Q’s Waqas Hassan Moakal had recently joined the PTI but denied party ticket. Mr Moakal is said to be leaving the PTI to join the PML-N.

PTI chairman Imran Khan in his video message said the tickets had been given to the candidates after due consultations and employing utmost honesty. Wooing the candidates who have been denied tickets, Mr Khan stressed that they must continue standing with the party for the creation of Naya Pakistan.

PTI’s senior leader Shafqat Mahmood said there were a large number of candidates and it was a complicated exercise to select the best among them.

WOMEN FOR NA SEATS: The PTI awarded six women tickets for the National Assembly seats. All of them belong to Punjab.

Three of the six candidates for NA are set to fight for their “family” seats and have been in the electoral field for several years. They are Ghulam Bibi Bharwana from NA-115 Jhang-III, who has jumped into the political fray after her father could not contest the polls during the Musharraf regime owing to the graduation condition.

Dr Yasmin Rashid from NA-125 Lahore-III had earlier contested against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and later against his wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz from the same constituency.

Ayesha Nazir Jutt, from NA-162 Vehari-I, entered politics by contesting and losing a by-poll on a seat that fell vacant after her father was disqualified from there.

Fatima Tahir Cheema from NA-168 Bahawalnagar-III is a new entrant but represents the political Cheema family led by Tariq and Tahir Bashir Cheema.

Khadija Amir from NA-173 Bahawalpur-IV and Zartaj Gul from NA-191 Dera Ghazi Khan-III do not belong to political families.

Interestingly, except Dr Rashid all the women candidates belong to south Punjab.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018