LANDI KOTAL: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has directed its workers, who had applied for tickets to contest July 20 provincial assembly elections in tribal districts, to withdraw their nomination papers and announce support for the party candidates till July 4 (today).

PTI central secretariat issued a notification on July 2 to all the aspiring candidates and directed them to support the nominees of the party in the polls.

The notification also directed the aspiring candidates, who were denied party tickets, to submit a copy of their withdrawal application to the party central secretariat without any delay.

“Disciplinary action would be taken against those, who do not abide by the party orders under section 12 (2-1, 6-1) along with suspension/cancellation of basic membership,” the notification warned.

PTI has awarded tickets to Shahid Hussain Shinwari, Amir Mohammad and Mohammad Zubair Afridi in Khyber tribal district for three provincial assembly constituencies of PK-105, PK-106 and PK-107 respectively.

Party directs ‘disgruntled’ workers to withdraw nomination papers

The tickets were awarded by a three-member parliamentary board comprising Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and PTI central general secretary Arshad Dad. Sources said that Governor Shah Farman was also present during candidates’ interviews though he was not a member of the board.

A mini-revolt occurred soon after the announcement of party candidates for the three Khyber constituencies as many aspirants alleged that senior and founding members of the party were ignored while tickets were awarded to politically naive and new entrants.

Sher Mat Khan, a young aspirant and a newcomer in the party, immediately announced contesting elections as an independent candidate from PK-105. Tanzeem Ahle Sunnath wal Jamaat also announced support for Sher Mat Khan, a resident of Bazaar-Zakhakhel area where most of the candidates are afraid to conduct their election campaign as the region is under the control of a so-called armed peace committee.

The award of ticket to Shahid Hussain also irked a senior and diehard party worker Abdur Raziq, who felt deceived and cheated by the parliamentary board. Many PTI workers in Landi Kotal and Jamrud believed that Abdur Raziq was the most suitable candidate as he still enjoyed the support of a maximum number of genuine party members.

Talking to Dawn, Abdur Raziq said that though he would not ‘quit’ the party but would distance himself from the election campaign and would rather focus on the affairs of his private school.

He was very critical of the role of Noorul Haq Qadri and accused him of creating serious dents in the rank and files of party in Khyber district. “I don’t think that our party would win a single seat if the polls are held fair and transparent,” he said.

Adnan Qadri, a nephew of Noorul Haq Qadri, had also applied for the ticket but he too was denied it. For many PTI workers, the selection of Shahid Hissain as party candidate for PK-105 was not only a surprise but also a shocking news as he had very little following in the party.

Likewise, the award of ticket to Amir Mohammad for PK0-106 too antagonised not only the other aspirants, including the most powerful of the rest of the candidates Khanshed Afridi, but also PTI workers in Jamrud and parts of Bara.

Khanshed had contested the 2013 general elections on party ticket and got more than 10,000 votes despite limited campaign as the party announced his candidature only one and a half month before the election date.

He has also announced to contest election from PK-106 as an independent candidate, pledging to ‘gift the seat to Imran Khan’ if he won it. He received a dent in his campaign due to his sudden illness and family sources told Dawn that he was under treatment in an Islamabad hospital.

Interestingly, Adnan Qadri is vehemently campaigning for Amir Mohammad in PK-106 while his father Abdul Malik Qadri, a former senator, is spearheading the election campaign of Sher Mat Khan against PTI candidate Shahid Hussain.

The party was, however, able to recover from its initial jolts in Bara (PK-107) where it awarded ticket to a young newcomer Zubair Afridi, also hailing from an influential business family and having the backing of sitting party MNA Iqbal Afridi.

His two powerful rivals Mohammad Ghani and Javed Afridi announced their support for him after their initial resentment over the mode of awarding of tickets. Both are now keeping a low profile and are seldom seen in election campaign of the party candidate.

Many workers and sympathisers have now focused their attention on the party’s central command notice to the independent candidates Khanshed and Sher Mat Khan, who are challenging party candidates. Abdur Raziq too had applied for ticket but told Dawn that he would abide by the party notice and ‘take back his papers’ on time.

None of these independent candidates could be approached for their comments or reply to the notice of party.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2019