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RAWALPINDI: Despite resentments from party workers and local leaders, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday awarded ticket for the NA-60 by-election to Awami Muslim League president and Federal Minister for Railway Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s nephew after he joined the PTI.

But local leaders of the ruling party termed it nepotism, adding the decision was taken against merit and ignoring workers who sacrificed for the party during the last 18 years, especially during the sit-ins in front of Parliament House.

Election on the National Assembly seat was postponed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the disqualification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Hanif Abbasi due to his conviction by the Control of Narcotics Substances Court in the ephedrine case.

However, the ECP started the process for holding the by-election by issuing nomination papers to the candidates on Monday. Polling will be held on October 14 while the process of nomination papers submission will be finalised by Sept 16.

In the July 25 election, the AML president was a candidate for NA-60 and NA-62. He won the NA-62 seat and wanted to field his nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique in the by-election for NA-60.

Mr Shafique is a former nazim of Rawal Town. He also contested the 2002 election but lost to Hanif Abbasi who was then a candidate of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

Say fielding Sheikh Rashid Shafique in by-election is against party’s stated policy of merit

PTI central disciplinary committee member retired Brig Tipu Sultan told Dawn that the decision to award the PTI ticket to Sheikh Rashid’s nephew was against merit and aimed at promoting family politics which was against the party’s policy.

He said the decision was made without any due process. “Before awarding the ticket the party should have called applications from candidates and after this selection would be made on merit,” he said.

“PTI Punjab North is misleading Chairman Imran Khan and has ignored old party workers and promoted Sheikh Rashid without merit. Mr Rashid also won his seat due to PTI otherwise he will not get 3,000 votes in Rawalpindi.”

He said Arif Abbasi, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Asif, Musadaq Ghuman and he (Tipu Sultan) were potential candidates but the party did not call applications and awarded the ticket.

PTI City President Ijaz Khan Jazi also criticised the decision of the party and said those who worked hard for the party were sidelined and ‘aliens’ brought to the party. He said the PTI made tall claims about merit but violated it within the party.

He said the party workers would not support the candidate and would prefer to stay at home if the party did not change the candidate. He said the PTI workers in the city wanted to launch a campaign against Sheikh Rashid.

“It is strange that those who were not in the party in difficult times are being given tickets and those who worked hard during the last five years and faced difficulties are being ignored,” he said.

PTI District President Sheharyar Riaz admitted that there was resentment among workers against the award of ticket to Sheikh Rashid’s nephew. He said the workers threatened to stage a sit-in on Kashmir Highway against the decision.

He said being an office-bearer he would implement the decision but the workers were against it. He said it was difficult to control the workers who had resentments against chacha-bhatija (uncle-nephew).

When contacted, PTI Punjab North President Aamir Mehmood Kayani said the party had decided to field Sheikh Rashid’s nephew for NA-60 by election.

To a question, he said Mr Shafique joined the party and would contest the by-election on the symbol of bat. He said the party had completed the due process in this regard.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2018