PESHAWAR: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf could not retain its performance of the previous general election as the party grabbed only five of the 16 general seats in the first ever elections for provincial assembly in tribal districts apparently owing to internal rifts and ‘poor’ selection of candidates.
The ruling party had stunned its rivals and critics after winning six out of 12 National Assembly seats in tribal districts in July 25, 2018 polls. PTI had won two NA seats from Bajaur, one from Mohmand, two from Khyber and one from Orakzai. Insiders said that merit was “bulldozed” in the allotment of tickets for provincial assembly polls and the party suffered.
In Friday’s elections, PTI was completely routed in Khyber and lost all three provincial assembly seats as independents won the seats. Rivals also humiliated PTI in Mohmand and Orakzai tribal districts and it could not win a single seat there.
In some constituencies, disgruntled PTI workers contested polls against the party candidates that divided its vote bank. Internal differences and chasm gave benefits to rival candidates, especially the independents, who secured five seats.
Internal rift, selection of ‘wrong’ candidates cited as main reasons for poor performance of ruling party
Insiders blamed the four-member parliamentary board for the “bad” performance of the party in elections. The board was consisted of Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Federal Minister for Religious Affair Allama Noorul Haq Qadri and PTI central general secretary Arshed Dad.
Sources said that poll results had also worried the party top leadership. National Assembly Speaker Assad Qaiser and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan met in Peshawar on Sunday and discussed post-elections scenario. They said that internal inquiry would be conducted to ascertain reasons for the debacle.
A senior leader of the party admitted that merit was not observed in allotment of tickets that caused loss to the party in the elections. He said that diehard and genuine workers were ignored and some of the MNAs and ministers influenced the board to obtain tickets for their family members.
“Our vote bank was divided because multiple candidates either contested polls against the party’s nominees or supported rivals,” he said, adding that newcomers were allotted tickets in Khyber and other districts.
He said that MNA Gul Zafar Khan had obtained ticket for his brother-in-law that caused dents among workers in Bajaur tribal district. Similarly, MNA Jawad Hussain got ticket for his younger brother Shoib Hassan in Orakzai and the party district president Gul Mohammad was ignored.
Gul Mohammad withdrew his candidature in favour of independent candidate Ghazan Gulab Jamal, who won PK-110. Gul Mohammad was ignored in general elections and Jawad Hussain was given ticket from Orakzai.
“The criteria for allotment of tickets were financial position of the candidate. People with criminal record were preferred over those, who had loyalties with the party,” said the PTI leader.
Sources said that parliamentary board gave tickets to newcomers on all three constituencies in Khyber as a result PTI was humiliated at the hands of independents. They said that new entrant Shahid Hussain Shinwari was the party candidate on PK-105 (Khyber-I) but Federal Minister Qadri’s Ahle-i-Sunat Wal Jamaat openly supported independent candidate.
The board gave ticket to Amir Mohammad Khan Afridi on PK-106 (Khyber-II), another new entrant, who came from PML-N. Khan Sheid, the old guard of PTI, was ignored and he contested polls independently. He was declared runner up by obtaining more than 10,000 votes. The party also bypassed its old guard in PK-107 (Khyber-III) and ticket was given to new entrant Zubair Afridi.
PTI won PK-109 (Kurram-II) with big margin. MPA-elect from PK-109 Syed Iqbal Mian had also contested general elections and was declared runner up. Main reason for the victory of PTI in Kurram was intra-sectarian rifts. PPP lost PK-109. PTI, however, lost PK-108 (Kurram-I) to JUI-F because of internal wrangling.
The ruling party was facing the same dilemma in North Waziristan and South Waziristan and three candidates contested polls against the PTI’s nominees there.
Provincial Minister for Information Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, however, expressed satisfaction over the party’s position in the elections. “We (PTI) were expecting to win at least 11 seats, but wrong decisions in the allotment of tickets restricted us to five seats,” he said. He said that PTI vote bank was intact in tribal districts. He added that important thing was that voters in merged districts rejected two major political parties because of their alleged corruption.
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2019