SIALKOT, Sept 6: The nomination of provincial minister Ajmal Cheema’s younger brother Muhammad Akmal Cheema as candidate for the district nazim slot has compelled many to say that what really matters to get into top office is one’s connections and not the public mandate.
Independent observers of local politics are of the view that the nomination has been made while neglecting other groups with better UC seat count in the district.
The observers also say the nomination of Akmal Cheema as PML candidate for district nazim slot is an ample proof of Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi’s close ties with the Cheemas which seems to be the only merit taken into consideration by the central PML leadership.
Talking to journalists on Tuesday Ajmal Cheema said the nomination of his younger brother, who was former Sialkot tehsil nazim was made by President Gen Pervaiz Musharraf purely ‘on merit’ and ‘in the larger interest’ of the people of the district.
Independent observers viewed that the ruling PML’s provincial and central leadership totally ignored the party’s local groups which got majority in the Aug 18, polls, including the Variyo family.
Despite getting majority UC nazim, naib-nazim and councillor seats in the district, the Variyos have been ignored by the PML leadership as no candidate from the family is nominated for any key slot in the district’s four tehsils.
Several PML groups, including Akhtar Variyo’s and former district nazim Mian Naeem Javaid’s group have expressed grave concern over the nomination of Akmal Cheema for the top district slot, besides nomination of Ejaz Ahmad Cheema as PML candidate for Daska tehsil nazim seat. They urged the Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi to review the nominations.
Mian Naeem Javaid alleged several corruption cases against Akmal Cheema and Ejaz Ahmad were under trial in the NAB courts.
Akhtar Variyo group and Mian Naeem Javaid have entered into a political alliance against the Ajmal Cheema group, besides, announcing to field joint candidates for the slots of district tehsil nazims in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur against the ruling PML candidates.
Akhtar Variyo and Mian Naeem also alleged that corrupt candidates had been fielded by the PML in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils.
Punjab chief minister has also nominated National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Ameer Hussain’s son Aamir Ameer Hussain, also PML’s district president, as candidate for Sialkot tehsil nazim slot, Punjab Public Accounts Committee chairman Azeem Noori Ghuman Group’s Nasir Ghuman for Sambrial tehsil nazim slot and Rana Ejaz Ahmad, former Pasrur tehsil naib-nazim for Pasrur tehsil nazim slot.
The ignored PML groups also accuse party’s top leadership of resorting to nepotism by promoting and nominating Jat candidates for all the top slots in the district ignoring other influential biradaries of the area.
Requesting anonymity, some officials told Dawn that the ruling PML leadership completely ignored the government agencies’ reports while nominating candidates for various slots in the district.
Meanwhile, Mian Naeem Javaid has again announced to contest for the district nazim slot with the support of Variyo family against the PML candidate Akmal Cheema.
It is learnt that many anti-Cheema groups of PML are mulling to form an alliance against the nomination of Akmal Cheema.
The ARD has also announced to field a joint candidate against PML’s Ejaz Cheema for Daska tehsil nazim slot with Variyo family’s support. But the alliance has yet not finalized its candidates in other tehsils and for the district top slot.
According to the independent observers, the reason behind this inordinate delay in nominating candidates by the ARD are internal differences among local groups of PML-N and PPP.