PTI Vice Chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday defended his decision to field his daughter Meher Bano Qureshi as a candidate for the by-election in NA-157, saying he would not have done so if they party had a "better candidate" to compete against PPP's Ali Musa Gilani.
The by-polls in NA-157 Multan, PP-139 Sheikhupura and PP-241 Bahawalnagar will be held on Sept 11. More than 18 candidates, including Meher Bano, former prime minister and Senator Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son Musa Gilani and Saifur Rahman Qureshi, have submitted their nomination papers for the NA-157 by-poll.
The constituency is considered the former foreign minister's stronghold. Musa Gilani also won the seat in the 2012 by-election.
"I did not take this step willingly. We made this difficult decision in pursuance of the vision of Imran Khan," Qureshi said on Monday while speaking to reporters in Multan.
The ex-foreign minister remarked that his daughter was an educated girl, adding she that she was involved in the field of journalism. "She can present her case properly," he said, adding that Meher Bano would also take part in canvassing.
Qureshi said that the nation's daughters have to play their role in times of crisis. "Women make up half of our population," he noted, adding that they played an equally important role in the national mainstream.
Qureshi said he would apprise party leaders of the situation, adding that "all leaders will back the narrative of Imran Khan and respect the party ticket".
In response to a question, Qureshi said the PTI would hold Aug 14 rally at another venue if permission was not granted for the Parade Ground.
NA-157 was vacated by Qureshi's son, Zain Qureshi, who contested Punjab Assembly’s PP-217 as a MPA and defeated the PML-N’s candidate, Salman Naeem, in the recently held by-election.
PTI workers protest Meher Bano's candidature
Qureshi's remarks come after a large number of party workers protested against his daughter's candidature. Last week, a large number of PTI workers led by the party’s local leader Engineer Waseem Abbas lodged a protest outside the ECP office in Multan against Qureshi and his family for promoting dynastic politics in the party.
The workers were chanting slogans and carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against Qureshi and his family. They had said Qureshi fielded his son Zain in PP-217 Multan and now he had given the ticket to his daughter.
“Did Qureshi not see any other candidate to contest the by-election,” they had questioned.
PTI local leader Waseem Abbas had said the PTI was launched under a slogan to challenge dynastic politics and the workers would not allow turning the party into a conventional and dynastic party.
About her candidature, Meher Bano tweeted on Friday, “Since announcing my candidacy for by-election in NA-157, I have come across so many spreading fake news, doctored images and posters and attributing false statements to me. I wonder if it would have been different had I been a man. Anyhow, happy to work hard and prove myself”.
In an audio statement, shared on her twitter account, she argued that “the PTI and my father selected me (for the by-election), against the traditions of my family, to keep the narrative of Imran Khan alive. I am not just a voter of the PTI but I have remained connected with the party and worked along its social media team since 2018”.
A twitter user, criticising her candidature, said, “As a staunch PTI supporter, I really respect and admire your dad SMQ. But I am totally against dynastic politics.”
Replying to the user, Meher Bano said: “I respect your opinion but I was selected by my halqa (constituency) to fight this election. I wasn’t given a party position or leadership. This isn’t a reserved seat. I have to fight for it. This is a very tough election but I will fight to keep my Kaptaan’s vision alive”.