GUJRAT/SIALKOT: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) changed its candidate for the by-poll in PP-38 (Sialkot) on Thursday, following rejection of the appeal of its earlier candidate, Qaiser Iqbal Baryar, by the election tribunal of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The new candidate of the party, Ahsan Saleem Baryar, the nephew of Qaiser Baryar, is a son of PML-Q Punjab senior vice president Saleem Baryar.

Ahsan’s nomination was announced in Islamabad where Special Assistant to Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan handed over the PTI ticket to him. Punjab PTI President Senator Ijaz Chaudhry, Saleem Baryar and other notables were also present at the occasion.

Returning officer Ibrar Jatoi had rejected the nomination papers of Qaiser over dual nationality. He had filed an appeal with the election tribunal, claiming that he had renounced the British nationality and would submit the renunciation certificate once it was issued by the British home department. But his appeal was rejected.

The PP-38 slot was vacated after the death of PML-N MPA Khush Akhtar Subhani some weeks back. The by-poll in the constituency is scheduled on July 28.

The PML-N has pitched former MPA Tariq Subhani, the younger brother of the deceased MPA, whereas total 18 candidates, including a former PTI ticket-holder from the same constituency in 2018, Saeed Bhalli, are in the run for the by-poll.

The ruling party has been facing setbacks and divisions since the announcement of by-election schedule for PP-38 as two of its potential candidates, Bhalli and Tahir Hundali, a former PPP MPA now in the PTI, had filed their nomination papers whereas the party’s first choice, Qaiser Baryar, also a president of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), is now out of the race.

Hundali has already announced to withdraw from the contest after which the Punjab government appointed him as coordinator to the CM on Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department whereas the efforts are also underway to convince Mr Bhalli also to withdraw from the race.

It is learnt Qaiser Baryar is weighing the option to file another appeal in the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the decision of the election tribunal. The last date to withdraw the nomination papers is June 30.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021

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