CHAKWAL: Finding himself snared in a catch-22 situation, Chakwal’s influential politician now eyes on Lahore High Court (LHC)’s verdict about his appeal which is supposed to be heard on July 3.

Sardar Ghulam Abbas was forgone by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) at the eleventh hour in the wake of the rejection of his nomination papers by an appellate bench of the LHC on June 27 and the party took Sardar Zulifqar Ali Khan Dullah, a PML N candidate for PP 23, for the NA 64 seat for which Mr Abbas was nominated as the PTI candidate on June 8.

According to the PTI, the decision was taken out of compulsion as the nomination papers of Mr Abbas’ covering candidate, Sardar Aftab Akbar, were also rejected.

However, the PTI retained Sardar Aftab Akbar as its candidate for PP 23 (Chakwal III).

A meeting was held at PTI’s local office on Saturday which was attended by Mr Abbas, Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz (candidate for PP 21, Chakwal I), Raja Tariq Afzal Kalas (candidate for PP 22, Chakwal II), Sardar Aftab Akbar and other local leaders. After hours’ long consultation Mr Abbas announced that he and his group would support PTI’s candidates for the three provincial assembly seats. But he did not utter a single word about Mr Dullah who is now the party’s candidate for NA 64.

“We have set up a committee, consisting of five members, which would take a final decision by two days,” Mr Abbas said while referring to NA 64.

He started his speech by reciting an Urdu couplet by Firaq Jalalpuri: Tu idhar udhar kee nah baat kar yeh battaa keh qafla kyun lutta/Mujhay rahzannon say gillah nahin teri rahbari ka sawal hai. (Don’t beat about the bush, tell me why was the caravan looted/I have no complaint against the highwaymen but am concerned with your leadership).

He urged PTI’s workers and local leaders to start a campaign for the party’s three candidates for the provincial assembly seats.

A close aide to Mr Abbas told Dawn that their group would decide about the future course of action regarding NA 64 after the July 3 hearing. “If our appeal is accepted, there are potent chances that Mr Abbas could come up as an independent candidate for the seat,” the aide said.

“Mr Abbas committed a blunder, though inadvertently, in his nomination papers by not mentioning a major chunk of his inherited land which created space for his opponents,” a senior PTI leader said.

He added that the blunder was committed by those who fulfilled his nomination papers.

Mr Abbas has severe differences with Mr Dullah while PTI’s two candidates, Raja Yasir Sarfraz and Raja Tariq Afzal Kalas, also do not have any soft corner for Mr Dullah.

But Advocate Ameer Butt, a close aide to Mr Abbas, looks optimistic about the upcoming verdict.

“The property was not mentioned in the nomination papers due to omission. This was inherited property, not bought through illegal means. I am confident that the LHC would give a verdict in our favour as Supreme Court has given a verdict in Sheikh Rashid’s favour on the same ground,” he maintained.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2018