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CHAKWAL: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday awarded its ticket for NA-64, Chakwal-I, to former PML-N candidate for PP-23, Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Dullah, instead of its own candidate Sardar Ghulam Abbas.

This came after a decision by the Lahore High Court (LHC) appellate bench on June 27 in which Mr Abbas’ nomination papers and that of his nephew Sardar Aftab Akbar, who was a covering candidate for his uncle, were rejected.

Mr Akbar was also PTI’s candidate for PP-23, Chakwal-III, and no one had filed any objection against him in this constituency.

Nomination papers of Sardar Abbas, nephew Sardar Aftab were rejected but were allowed dispensation by LHC

Mr Abbas and Mr Akbar challenged the verdict in the election tribunal on June 28 and sought a dispensation. A two-member bench suspended the June 27 decision and allowed the dispensation sought by both applicants. The court fixed the next hearing for July 3.

But the following day, on June 29, the PTI awarded its ticket for the constituency to Sardar Zulfikar Ali Dullah, who was elected as PML-N MPA in 2013 and was also awarded PML-N’s ticket for PP-23 for the upcoming elections. He left leaders of the former ruling party stunned when he returned the ticket.

Talking to Dawn, Sardar Ghulam Abbas said the unexpected decision was part of a vicious game.

“One man is the mastermind of this game,” he said.

“Is it alright to leave a friend behind when he is in trouble,” he said, referring to the rejection of his nomination papers.

He said he could have contested the elections as he was allowed so by the LHC but he was forgone by the party as part of a conspiracy and that he will announce his next course of action on Saturday.

“We will not contest the election in PP-23 either,” he said.

Malik Akhtar Shahbaz will be PTI’s candidate in PP-23 instead.

Though local PML-N leader retired Col Mushtaq Ahmed has submitted his nomination papers, the party has not yet decided on its candidate in this constituency.

Rumours are going around that the top PML-N leadership is trying to bring in Sardar Ghulam Abbas and Sardar Aftab Akbar. Mr Abbas could also come up with an independent panel.

Meanwhile, PTI workers have rejected Mr Dullah as their candidate and announced they will oppose him. Secretary of the party’s youth wing in northern Punjab Chaudhry Mohsin Hassan Khan and secretary political training for northern Punjab Syed Asal Ali Shah issued a joint statement on Friday evening, saying the party workers will not accept Mr Dullah as a candidate.

“We cannot tolerate further joke with the party and would announce our next course of action soon,” they said.

PTI’s spokesperson issued a statement on the party’s official Twitter account, which says that Sardar Ghulam Abbas and Sardar Aftab Akbar are no longer eligible for contesting the elections after the court’s decision which is why the party had to change its decision regarding the award of ticket. The spokesperson has requested that people not make speculations on the issue.

Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Dullah, 64, graduated in law in 1997 from the University of Karachi. A wealthy businessman, Mr Dullah has served as chairman National Manpower Bureau, as chief executive National Livestock and Meat Processing, as chairman Pakistan Overseas Employment Promoters Association, as member Zonal Committee Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as member Advisory Committee Ministry of Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2018