PESHAWAR: Internal differences in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have increased following the party’s crushing defeat in July 25 general election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as some of the senior leaders, especially from Hazara division, are already opposed to provincial president Amir Muqam, insiders said.

Some of the PML-N activists said that the election defeat had badly disappointed the party’s senior people and they had got the opportunity to criticise the provincial leadership for its failure to award the tickets on ‘merit’.

It was learnt that former provincial presidents Pir Sabir Shah and Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan had also reservations, but they did not want to raise such issues at this time when Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were in prison.

Party activists blame provincial leadership for poll debacle

The groupings, the sources said, could be judged from the differences observed during distribution of tickets in Hazara division. They said that Mr Muqam was enjoying support of retired Capt Safdar and Murtaza Javaid Abbasi, and Mian brothers could not turn down their proposals.

The complaints regarding rigging, they said, were common across the country, but even then PML-N succeeded to win maximum seats of Punjab Assembly. However, the party lost its past position in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The sources said that in the previous elections PML-N had won 16 seats in the provincial assembly while in the 2018 election the number of MPAs fell to five only and MNAs from six (KP and ex-Fata region combined) to only three.

It was learnt that the people had reservations because there was one-man show and all the decisions were taken without taking the provincial council into confidence. The provincial president belongs to Pakhtun belt where only one provincial assembly candidate Jamshid Khan Mohmand of Shergarh, Mardan, and one National Assembly candidate Dr Ibadullah from Shangla had won the election, while rest of the winners belong to Hazara division.

The sources said that the provincial president had ignored the provincial council and took all the decisions at his own and thus rest of the office-bearers opted to stay away from the election campaign.

However, PML-N provincial spokesman Ikhtiar Wali said that those talking about internal differences were friends of good days who started criticising the provincial leadership when the party faced defeat in the election. He said that Mr Muqam remained very active compared to the rest of provincial level leaders of other political parties. He said the provincial council and cabinet meetings were held timely.

About differences over distribution of tickets, the spokesman said that the process had been completed on merit in the presence of all members of the parliamentary board.

The elections, he alleged, were rigged as polling agents were forced to leave the polling stations during counting and thus the results were changed.

“PML-N’s votes are in the PTI bags,” he claimed and added that the election commission should open the sacks to ascertain the actual number of votes of all the candidates.

The PML-N spokesman said that rest of the parties, including MMA, ANP and PPP had also suffered though they used to hold regular meetings for poll preparations.

Party’s provincial vice-president Rashid Mehmood said that the ECP had failed to conduct free, fair and impartial elections. “We will convene a meeting of the provincial council within next few days to decide our future line of action,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2018