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PML-N fields candidates against Nisar

Updated June 25, 2018

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LAHORE: Apparently on the orders of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday announced fielding party candidates against maverick Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the national as well as Punjab assembly’s constituencies.

“The Sharif brothers, who remained in a ‘to be, or not to be’ situation with regard to the award of party tickets to Chaudhry Nisar, finally reached a decision on Sunday. Nawaz Sharif voted against the proposal of not fielding PML-N candidates against his old friend and asked Shahbaz Sharif to announce the candidates against him,” a PML-N leader privy to the development told Dawn.

He said the PML-N parliamentary board had deferred its decision on Saturday on fielding its candidates on four constituencies — NA-63, NA-59, PP-10 and PP-12 (from where Chaudhry Nisar is contesting as an independent candidate) — when it announced candidates for 112 out of the total 141 National Assembly seats in Punjab and 192 of 297 Punjab Assembly seats.

Intriguingly, PML-N gives tickets to two relatives of Bushra Maneka’s former husband

“It was not an easy decision. The party was divided on the issue of Chaudhry Nisar. One camp was not in favour of not fielding PML-N candidates against him for his diatribe against Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam and also betraying the party at the time of crisis. The other camp wanted reconciliation between Nawaz and Nisar as it said that departure of the latter would weaken the party,” the PML-N leader said.

The parliamentary board had finally thrown the ball in the court of the Sharif brothers, he said, adding that Shahbaz Sharif spoke to Nawaz Sharif in London on phone before announcing candidates against Chaudhry Nisar.

Another PML-N insider said Shahbaz Sharif had persuaded Nawaz Sharif not to field candidates against Chaudhry Nisar and it was evident from PML-N’s first list of candidates of NA-114 and PP-192 seats, but after a strong criticism by some senior journalists alleging that Shahbaz Sharif had called the ‘final shot’ in this matter and Chaudhry Nisar’s remarks in Saturday’s rally that he did not need PML-N tickets and securities of his opponents in the election would be confiscated, ‘annoyed’ Nawaz Sharif to take the latest decision.

“Chaudhry Nisar had softened his stance about Nawaz Sharif in his press conference last week and it was seen as an effort to normalise his relations with the former prime minister, but it could not work at this stage,” he said, adding had Mr Nisar spoken ‘something good’ about Maryam Nawaz perhaps the PML-N would not have fielded candidates against him. “Although Chaudhry Nisar appears to be confident to defeat both PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidates in the July 25 polls things are not as simple as he thinks,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a rally in Dhamial on Sunday, Chaudhry Nisar said he would reveal the truth about his differences with Nawaz Sharif soon.

“I will soon tell the nation about the differences between me and Nawaz Sharif and reason for contesting the election as an independent candidate,” he said.

Interestingly, the PML-N parliamentary board also awarded tickets to two relatives of Khawar Maneka, the former husband of Bushra Maneka, wife of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan.

Raza Maneka was awarded the ticket from National Assembly’s constituency NA-145 Pakpattan while Mian Hayat Maneka from Punjab Assembly’s constituency PP-191 Pakpattan.

On Sunday, the PML-N also gave its candidates 10 tickets for different NA constituencies in Punjab and 30 for Punjab Assembly’s constituencies.

Aamir Yasin contributed to this report from Rawalpindi

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2018