ISLAMABAD: For the three National Assembly seats in Islamabad, the PPP chapter in the federal capital has been accused of ‘promoting the hereditary politics’ amid disagreements within the former ruling party over the award of party tickets to nominees vying for NA-46, NA-47 and NA-48 on the PPP platform.

The PPP has not finalised the names of the candidates, but a party leader told Dawn that almost 20 candidates had filed nomination papers in the three constituencies, hoping that the party would award them a ticket.

Among these nominees are the younger brothers of senior PPP leaders Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Syed Nayyar Bukhari. Both candidates had lost the previous election in 2018. Raja Imran Ashraf and Sibtul Haider are eyeing NA-46 and NA-47 seats, respectively.

There are concerns over the nomination of Raja Imran Ashraf from Islamabad. Many workers even pointed out that Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, his brother and a son had already filed nominations from Gujar Khan; therefore, the entry of Raja Imran in the federal capital would discourage other PPP workers in Islamabad.

Party accused of ‘promoting hereditary politics’, ignoring old guard

Sources in the PPP said there was severe resentment in the party about the possible move to field “old faces and relatives of senior leaders” in the federal capital, unlike other parties whose frontline leaders contest elections in Islamabad. They added PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari and PPP President Punjab Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also played a key role in picking party candidates in the federal capital.

Interestingly, no interview had so far been conducted, which indicated that the decision about PPP candidates for polls had been made somewhere else.

When contacted, a senior PPP leader said that many voters were concerned about the selection of candidates in NA-46 and NA-47 and decided not to support Raja Imran Ashraf and Sibtul Haider. He said the party’s high command had not finalised its candidates for the polls but Imran Ashraf was claiming that he had got the ticket for NA-46.

When contacted, PPP Secretary General Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said the party had shortlisted the candidates but so far nothing had been finalised.

He said PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardrai was holding meetings daily for the selection of candidates on the recommendations of party divisional and provincial chapters.

He said Raja Pervez Ashraf, being PPP Punjab president, also sat in the meetings.

Similarly, there are also some reports of disagreement between PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari on the award of tickets to candidates in the capital. According to the sources, PPP Chairman Bilawal wanted some “new, young and non-controversial faces as PPP’s candidates from Islamabad but Mr Zardari was backing already tested candidates”.

Moreover, some PPP workers alleged that the party leaders were deliberately fielding weak candidates in the area to facilitate former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who is contesting polls as an independent candidate. “Weak candidates of PPP in NA-48 will benefit Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and in return is it likely that he will withdraw from NA-47, which will benefit the PPP candidate,” a longstanding local PPP worker said.

However, talking to Dawn, Mr Khokhar has stated that he will not withdraw from NA-47, and in such a case the odds will be against the PPP nominee, who is also the younger brother of Nayyar Bukhari.

PPP aspirants

The federal capital has three constituencies NA-46, NA-47 and NA-48, and the nomination papers have been filed by four aspirants in the NA-46, which comprises areas starting from Jhangi Syedan, Tarnol and moving up to G-8.

The four PPP workers to file nominations from this constituency are Raja Imran Ashraf, Adnan Shah, president of Peoples Youth Organisation (PYO) Islamabad, Nighat Batool, senior vice president of the PPP women wing Islamabad, and Samana Malaika Raza, PPP human rights cell’s secretary general.

Samana Raza is also on the PPP’s list of seats reserved for women. She hails from Jhangi Syedan area and has a considerable standing among locals, including in Shah Allah Ditta and the urban sectors of Islamabad.

In NA-48, which includes Rawat, Sihala, Ghori Town, Banigala, Alipur, Margalla Town, and Sohan near Faizabad, there are five PPP nominations in this constituency: Chaudhary Asad Pervaiz, Umar Awan, Aftab Shah, Zeeshan Naseeb and Khaqan Khawaja.

Sources said Khaqan Khawaja or Chaudhary Asad Pervaiz could be a likely candidate for NA-48.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2023

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