• Safdar says Maryam, Muqam candidates for Punjab, KP CM slots
• Party defers final decision on tickets for women on general seats
• IPP demands over 100 national, provincial assembly seats from PML-N

LAHORE/MANSEHRA: After getting a clean chit from the courts, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif will contest elections for the National Assembly seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s NA-15 (Mansehra), his son-in-law Captain Muhammad Safdar told reporters on Wednesday.

“Nawaz Sharif will be our election candidate from NA-15 (Mansehra-II). He will become the prime minister as an elected representative of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to address the province’s deprivation,” Mr Safdar told reporters outside the deputy commissioner’s office in Mansehra.

He said he had received nomination papers for the former prime minister and would submit them today.

He said Amir Muqam would be the PML-N’s choice for KP chief minister, whereas his wife, Maryam Nawaz, is the party’s candidate for the Punjab CM office. A formal announcement in this regard would be made later, he added.

Mr Safdar, who previously contested polls from NA-15, said he would not contest elections this time as he wanted to become a senator. “I will never decline the party’s offer for a Senate ticket,” he said.

It may be noted here that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif is likely to submit his nomination papers for Lahore’s NA-123, PP-158, and PP-164 seats. He is also expected to file papers from Karachi’s NA-242. Maryam Nawaz is expected to file nomination papers for the NA-119 seat as well as two PA seats in Lahore.

Tickets for women aspirants

As the PML-N continued to dole out tickets to candidates, the PML-N parliamentary board led by Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday conducted interviews of more than 400 party members interested in seats reserved for women.

Though the last date for the filing of nomination papers is Dec 22, the party still has not made a final decision about the nomination of women candidates for general seats. “No decision regarding how many tickets to be awarded to the party women to contest the upcoming polls on general seats was made in the meeting. The leadership has deferred the matter,” a party leader who attended the meeting told Dawn.

“Since the party’s current chief organiser is a woman, women workers are pinning a hope that this time around the PML-N may consider fielding them on some general seats in forthcoming elections,” a woman leader told Dawn.

“The party is looking for electables on seats where it does not have strong candidates in Punjab… Today 400 PML-N women appeared in interviews for reserved seats but there is hardly any chance that these will go to the workers. Relatives and cronies of the PML-N bigwigs will be accommodated,” she said.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, PML-N Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari said: “The parliamentary board conducted the interviews of women candidates for reserved seats for five hours. “Important positions in the party have been given to women. This time many women will be seen contesting on general seats in Feb polls,” she claimed.

PML-N Punjab Women Wing President Nosheen Iftikhar said a committee had been constituted to nominate the party women on reserved seats on merit.

IPP seeks over 100 seats

On the other hand, the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) has sought 40 national and 70 provincial assembly seats from the Sharif brothers, IPP Information Secretary Firdous Ashiq Awan confirmed while speaking to a private news channel on Wednesday.

However, the PML-N is in no mood to oblige the IPP. “Both IPP and PML-Q are demanding seats above their size. The PML-N can have a seat adjustment with them provided they put up a reasonable demand,” a PML-N leader from Punjab told Dawn. Interestingly, IPP president Aleem Khan has also announced he would be contesting from NA-119 — a constituency from where Maryam Nawaz may contest polls. Aleem Khan is also filing nomination papers on two PA seats — PP-149 and PP-150 of Lahore.

“If Maryam decides to contest on NA-119, Aleem Khan has two choices — either to withdraw in her favour or contest against her in case the seat adjustment between the two parties does not work out,” a party source said.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2023



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