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MURREE: Three major dissenting PML-N groups in NA-57, consisting of Murree, Kotli Sattian, Kahuta and Kallar Syedan, announced they will support Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidates Sadaqat Ali Abbasi and retired Maj Latasab Satti.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is the PML-N’s candidate in the area for the National Assembly and may face a serious blow due to the decision.

Two large groups consisting of union council chairmen, former chairman and former members of the district council and all belonging to the PML-N were formed as pressure groups, saying that Mr Abbasi had not visited Murree even once in his eleven months in office and that he had also not fulfilled the promises made by Nawaz Sharif during the 2013 election campaign.

Group members say ex-PM Abbasi did not visit the area during his tenure, failed to fulfil promises

Known as the United Group and the Ittefaq Group, they announced they will support PTI National Assembly candidates in the upcoming elections.

The groups had previously intended to field their own candidates for the national and provincial assemblies against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Raja Ishfaq Sarwar but later decided on supporting the PTI candidate instead.

Leader of the Ittefaq Group Junaid Aziz Abbasi said locals have serious resentments against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and that the group wants to defeat him in the elections. He said they did not field their own candidate which would have divided the vote and benefitted Mr Abbasi.

Another group consists of the defunct Sipah-i-Sahaba elements known as the Azm-i-Inqalab Group headed by Ishtiaq Abbasi, who secured 12,000 votes in 2013 elections. This group has also announced support for PTI candidates in a press conference with Ittefaq Group and United Kohsar Group.

The PTI candidates now have a sound position against their PML-N counterparts.

Another blow to the PML-N candidates is that a group of PML-N dissidents known as the Faisal Baghi Group is also opposing Raja Ishfaq Sarwar.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is also contesting the elections in NA-53 against PTI chief Imran Khan and does not have enough time to campaign in NA-57. For the first time, his sons Nadar Khaqan and Abdullah Khaqan are looking after his campaign in NA-57, along with provincial assembly candidate Raja Ishfaq Sarwar. Two incidents of protests against Raja Ishfaq Sarwar in Murree and Kotli Sattian have also affected his campaign.

Mr Abbasi is focusing more on Kahuta and Kallar towns where he took part in two public rallies during his premiership and announced some development projects there. However, he will face a tough contest there as well after the nomination of Mehreen Raja as National Assembly candidate by PPP.

Meanwhile, PTI candidate for the National Assembly Sadaqat Ali Abbasi and its candidate for the provincial assembly Latasab Satti addressed a public gathering at GPO Chowk on Wednesday.

Mr Abbasi said Mian Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N are the story of the past and that PTI will form the next government, with Imran Khan as the prime minister.

Mr Abbasi said he is contesting the elections against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who he said has not fulfilled the party’s promises to the people of NA-57.

He said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been elected six times and that he reached the top position in the country but did not bring about a positive change in the constituency.

UC Sehr Bagla chairman Haji Shakil Abbasi left PML-N and joined PTI along with others in the rally.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2018