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TAXILA: For the first time in 30 years, a candidate within the PML-N has filed nomination papers to stand against Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in NA-63.

PML-N Rawalpindi President Sardar Mumtaz Khan and his panel filed nomination papers for NA-63 in the court of returning officer Tahir Abbas Sipra.

The other members of Mumtaz Khan’s panel are Qari Waliur Rehman for PP-19. Mr Rehman is a senior journalist who has had a long association with the Sharifs through their spiritual aide, Abdul Razzaq Jami and through late journalist Majeed Nazmi.

Raja Sheraz Asghar, a businessman, will be contesting the elections for PP-20. According to sources, the three candidates have also submitted applications for the party’s tickets and have begun lobbying for them as well. They have started door-to-door campaigns and are holding corner meetings to secure votes.

Aspiring candidates from the Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan camp are looking towards their leader for getting party tickets for the two provincial assembly seats in Taxila and Wah. During a recent PML-N parliamentary board meeting presided over by party president Shahbaz Sharif, the award of tickets to Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for two National Assembly seats and just as many provincial assembly seats were announced for the 2018 general elections.

Rumours that the former interior minister was joining the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had created rifts in the party regarding the award of ticket to him. Chaudhry Nisar has since denied the rumours and said he has not asked for a party ticket in his 35-year political career and that he does not intend to do so in the future.

The outgoing MPA from Taxila, Umar Farooq, is in the Chaudhry Nisar group and is vying to contest in PP-20 again as is Haji Ali Asghar Awan, chairman of the local union council.

Haji Dildar, who contested for the National Assembly during the 2013 elections on a PPP ticket, also wants to contest the upcoming elections from Chaudhry Nisar’s camp in PP-19.

However, whoever is given the party ticket will have to face PTI candidates in the elections including outgoing MNA and PTI Vice President Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Ammar Sadeeq Khan, the son of former MPA and tehsil nazim Sadeeq Khan, and outgoing MPA Malik Taimoor Akbar.

A close contest is expected between the two parties in the upcoming general elections. According to a preliminary Election Commission of Pakistan list of revised delimitation for 2018, NA-63 Rawalpindi-VII consists of Taxila tehsil and Adiala revenue limits of Rawalpindi tehsil.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018