QUETTA: In a dramatic development, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s ticket holder for Senate election, Syed Zahoor Agha, withdrew his nomination papers along with three candidates of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) on Thursday.
Mr Agha was awarded PTI ticket after the party withdrew its ticket from business tycoon Mohammad Abdul Qadir following strong opposition to his nomination from the Balochistan chapter of the party.
Spokesman for the Balochistan government, Liaquat Shahwani said in his tweet that Mr Agha had withdrawn from the contest in favour of the BAP. He said that BAP President Jam Kamal Alyani had requested the PTI leadership for withdrawing its candidate in favour of his party.
However, there were no comments from the PTI in this regard.
Circles close to Mr Agha claimed that he had withdrawn from the contest due to differences among the party ranks in Balochistan. Differences have also emerged in the PTI over awarding party ticket to Mr Agha. PTI parliamentary leader in Balochistan Assembly Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind has said that he was not taken into confidence by the party high command over the award of its ticket to Mr Qadir and then to Mr Agha.
The son of Sardar Rind is contesting election for a Senate seat as an independent candidate.
Mr Qadir, who filed his nomination papers again as an independent candidate after withdrawal of PTI ticket for him, enjoys the support of the BAP as announced by its president.
After withdrawal of the nomination papers by Mr Agha, the PTI has no candidate from a Balochistan to contest Senate election.
The three candidates of the BAP who withdrew their nomination papers on the last date of withdrawal are: Aurangzeb Jamaldini (general seat) Shaina Khan (seat reserved for woman) and Khalil George Bhutto (minority seat).
After withdrawal of nomination papers by the four candidates, now 32 candidates remain in the field from Balochistan. They include candidates of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Awami National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, BNP-Awami and Pakistan National Party.
Meanwhile, Mr Agha said that he had withdrawn from the contest on the order of Prime Minister Imran Khan issued at the request of BAP leadership.
Taking to journalists late in the evening, Mr Agha said: “I accept whatever decision the party has taken.”
He said that he had no personal desire to get a Senate ticket and had submitted his nomination papers on the orders of Prime Minister Khan.
Later, a BAP delegation met senior PTI leadership and said that the two parties should jointly contest Senate elections in Balochistan and the PTI should withdraw its candidate in the favour of the BAP, he said.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2021