FAISALABAD: Khwaja Muhammad Islam, who was once considered the most powerful politician of Faisalabad after the former Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, will contest as an independent candidate from PP-111.

Islam has applied for a PML-N ticket but he was ignored by the party which nominated Israr Ahmed alias Munne Khan, a close associate of former senator Farooq Khan from the constituency. Khan was promised ticket by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sources, privy to the development, told Dawn the PML-N did not want to field Islam for the contest as he had been disqualified by the court over a fake degree. They said Munne Khan is a novice in politics and lacks experience as compared to Islam; however, the party ticket will help him get the support of the notables of his constituency and union council chairmen.

The banners appeared at the Clock Tower intersection a couple of days back, questioning as to why Islam had been deprived of the PML-N ticket despite serving it for years. Islam had won the MPA slot thrice and he had convinced the party to field his brother the late Khwaja Liaqat in the last by-election for PP-72. The seat had fallen vacant after disqualification of Islam.

Khwaja Islam to contest for PP-111 as independent candidate

The PML-N local leaders had developed differences following issuance of a party ticket to Khwaja Liaqat and former MPA Khurram Shehzad had cashed in on the situation and defeated Khawaja Liaqat. Shehzad is now contesting for NA-107 on a PTI ticket and this time he is facing a situation similar to the one Khwaja Liaqat had faced.

Islam had been a close associate of Rana Sanaullah and was known as a shadow law minister when the PML-N was in power. However, Sana and Islam had reportedly developed differences and the latter had joined the camp of Sher Ali, a former MNA and father of Ex-State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.

The election for the mayor slot had also damaged Mr Islam’s reputation. Sanaullah group had fielded Malik Razzaq, brother of ex-MPA Malik Muhammad Nawaz, and Sher Ali group had supported Sheraz Kahloon for the mayor’s slot. Reports said Islam had tried to burn the candle at both ends and promised votes to both the groups but his plan was exposed. Malik Razzaq won the election and now Kahloon was playing the role of opposition leader.

In a gathering at his election office in Model Town on Friday, Mr Islam had announced he would contest the election as an independent candidate, claiming that scores of the area notables had insisted on him to run for the election.

A PML-N worker, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that Islam was denied a ticket due to his some wrongdoings. He said the party had faced embarrassment when Mr Islam had backed a criminal — Rana Imran – who had killed the teenage son of an electrician while resorting to a jubilation fire in a wedding ceremony. Islam had forced the electrician for reconciliation by keeping him detained at an undisclosed location. “Killing of the innocent boy had invited the attention of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who had issued order for payment of blood money to the father of the deceased boy; however, Islam did not pay the full amount.”

Instead of blaming the party, the worker added, Islam should have mend his ways as the party had given him identification in the city.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2018