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TAXILA: Though the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced the schedule for by-elections, no candidate obtained nomination papers for NA-63 (Rawalpindi VII) which has been vacated by Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan.

The minister won two National Assembly seats and opted to retain NA-59.

As per the schedule, filing of nomination papers started on Tuesday for the by-polls scheduled to be held on October 14. But no candidate from any political party obtained nomination papers on the first day.

The federal minister for petroleum at a meeting of his party activists and office-bearers held at his hometown Pind Nowsheri on Monday night announced that his son would contest the by-polls on the PTI ticket for NA-63. He claimed that the party chief and Prime Minister Imran Khan had given him a free hand to choose and nominate any candidate for the seat.

Speaking on the occasion, a large number of party activists and members of his group supported his nomination. However, sources said, soon after the meeting some local party activists termed it family politics saying the minister’s nephew Ammar Sadeeq Khan had already been elected member of the provincial assembly from PP-19, Taxila.

A meeting of the party office-bearers and activists has also been conveyed by PML-N district president Sardar Mumtaz Khan. He contested the July 25 election against Sarwar Khan and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the PML-N ticket. However, it is not confirmed if he would succeed to get the party ticket for the by-polls.

Chaudhry Nisar has also not announced his decision to contest the by-polls. It is also not clear if he contests the polls he would be an independent candidate or would succeed to end his differences with the PML-N leadership and get the party ticket.

Former MPA Haji Umer Farooq, who contested the election with the symbol of jeep as an independent candidate, lost the polls and remained at number three. According to sources, he may launch his nephew Barrister Malik Aqeel for the by-polls.

The PML-N, PPP and JI have so far adopted a “wait and see policy” as no electioneering has been started by them. The PTI swept the July 25 election with a heavy margin in the area.

Dr Sabir Ali, a political observer, told this correspondent that political parties were hesitant to contest the by-polls as the political atmosphere was fully in favour of the PTI.

Saeed Siddiqui, another political observer, was of the view that the electioneering activity would get momentum after political parties finalised their candidates.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018