MULTAN: While Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers from Multan called off their four-day protest in front of party chief Imran Khan’s Banigala residence in Islamabad after receiving assurances on Friday, tensions over distribution of tickets continued to simmer as two of the party’s leaders from southern Punjab engaged in a war of words over the issue.
The PTI workers from Multan had held a sit-in for four days in front of Mr Khan’s house to protest against the party’s decision to allow the so-called ‘electables’, new entrants to the party, to supersede committed workers who had struggled for the party’s success, when it came to distribution of tickets for the election.
At a press conference on Friday, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that people who were trying to accommodate former federal minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan in the PTI and had arranged his meeting (with Imran Khan) should now face the party workers (protesting at Banigala).
Mr Bosan has been campaigning for elections from NA-154 as a PTI nominee, even though the party is yet to name him officially. He is believed to have been roped into the PTI camp led by Jahangir Tareen.
Mr Qureshi said that Mr Bosan had been a part of the PML-N’s cabinet till May 30, and had joined the PTI recently. He said the PTI chairman was aware of the situation and would soon take a final decision regarding NA-154.
When PTI’s former secretary Jahangir Khan Tareen, who was in Lodhran on Friday, was contacted, he promised to give a detailed answer after watching Mr Qureshi’s press conference.
In response to a question about Mr Bosan’s decision to join the PTI, Mr Tareen said all the members of the party’s parliamentary board had taken an oath not to make its proceedings public. “Now whosoever is violating the oath will face the consequences,” he said.
While Mr Qureshi stated that he did not support the PTI workers camped in front of Banigala, Mr Tareen said that everyone had a right to make efforts to get a party ticket.
“If anyone is involved in politics of sit-ins to get a party ticket, we do not consider it wrong as we ourselves had started the politics of sit-ins. However the tickets will be awarded on merit. Imran Khan is himself distributing each ticket and chairing the meetings in this regard,” Mr Tareen said, adding that 90 per cent decisions regarding the distribution of party tickets had been taken already and would be made public soon.
Other than Mr Bosan, Mr Qureshi also objected to award of tickets to former PML-N MNA Nazir Jutt and his daughter Ayesha Jutt, and said that PTI leader Ishaq Khakwani was behind their induction into the party. Mr Khakwani is considered close to Mr Tareen.
The PTI vice chairman opposed the ‘growing’ demand for a ticket for another PTI leader considered close to Mr Tareen, Aun Abbas Bappi, who is also PTI’s south Punjab general secretary.
Mr Bappi had earlier accused Mr Qureshi of using his influence to get tickets for his relatives.
Mr Tareen suggested that Mr Qureshi should remove Mr Bappi’s reservations against him instead of levelling allegations against others.
In reply to a question about his differences with Mr Tareen, the PTI vice chairman sarcastically said he had no competition with someone who had been disqualified from contesting the election. “There is no competition with a man who is not at all in the game,” he said.
In response, Mr Tareen clarified that he was very much in the game — aludding to his participation in party affairs.
Mr Qureshi said that the PTI had offered seat adjustment to Jamshed Dasti in Muzaffargarh as he had opposed the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party in the National Assembly for the last five years.
“I contacted him and offered to adjust seats, so that both of his provincial assembly candidates would contest on PTI tickets... this he has accepted. Now the adjustment has been finalised,” he said, adding that democracy was a game of numbers and Imran Khan could become prime minister if the right numbers were achieved.
To a question about reserved seats, Mr Tareen criticised how the PTI had ignored women party workers from southern Punjab, and said it was unjustified. “I personally have reservations over the way the lists were prepared. Separate lists were prepared for each region including south Punjab but justice was not done in the distribution of tickets and a few individuals were responsible for it; however still there is some space for it as we will win many seats which will help us to accommodate the female workers,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018