LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi says his own party conspired against him to ensure his defeat in the provincial assembly seat in the 2018 general election to stop him from becoming the chief minister of Punjab.

He was addressing a gathering during the [by-election] rally held in Sadat Colony in PP-217 (Multan) late on Tuesday night.

Mr Qureshi said had he been the chief minister in Punjab, the PTI’s federal and provincial governments would not have been toppled.

“Had I been elected (CM), I would have brought about development in the area. Now the people have another chance and they should elect my son Makhdoomzada Zain Qureshi. I was also asked by some of the PTI office-bearers that I should not field my son as candidate for PP-217 but I told them that we will contest election against the turncoat,” he said.

The PP-217 fell vacant after the election commission disqualified 25 members of the PTI in the Punjab Assembly after defection.

Mr Qureshi had contested the 2018 general election on a national and a provincial seat each and lost to an independent candidate Salman Naeem who joined PTI ranks to form Usman Buzdar government but later defected after Imran Khan was removed from the PM slot through a no-confidence motion in the national assembly.

Former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry also endorsed Mr Qureshi’s claim while talking to TV channels and said that PTI members had conspired against Mr Qureshi and helped his opponent on the provincial assembly seat.

Chaudhry had also contested the 2018 election on provincial and national assembly seats and won both.

He also lobbied for the chief minister slot but PTI Chairman Mr Khan directed him to resign from the provincial assembly seat to join him in the national assembly as information minister.

Aleem Khan, another potential contender for the coveted slot, was rather made to join the Usman Buzdar cabinet as senior minister. Khan did not show any interest in the position and also [allegedly] continued to lobby against Mr Buzdar.

Later, in February 2019, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Aleem Khan in a corruption case and kept him in detention for five months.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022

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