GUJRAT: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has finally decided to field Qaisara Elahi, the wife of party president and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, in NA-64 (Gujrat-Kunjah) and PP-32 (Kunjah).

With the PTI’s decision, now it will be a tough contest between Ms Elahi and her nephew former federal minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain, who is the PML-Q candidate for both these seats.

The PTI had earlier announced Rehana Abbas and her daughter Zahra Ikhlas, a close kin of PML-Q chief, on both these seats due to some litigation involved in the nomination papers and issuance of election symbol to Ms Elahi.

Ms Elahi, a sister of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, has been allotted ‘peacock’ as poll symbol on both the seats, whereas another PTI nominee, Mudassar Raza, who is contesting for PP-31 (Gujrat city), has also been given the same (peacock) symbol.

PTI decides to field Parvez Elahi’s wife against PML-Q’s Salik Hussain in NA-64, PP-32

Now the PTI-backed panel will contest the February 8 elections on the same symbol in NA-64, as well as its both provincial assembly seats — PP-31 and PP-32 — unlike other constituencies, where the party aspirants are contesting on different symbols.

A local PTI leader said that the pattern of elections in the two constituencies of Gujrat had now been settled where members of the same family are contesting against each other.

Ms Sumaira Elahi, the youngest sister of PML-Q chief, is also a PTI candidate from PP-34 (Dinga).

Parvez Elahi has never lost elections in PP-32 since 1985, whereas he had won from NA-64 in the last two elections — 2013 and 2018 — but he had vacated the seat in 2018, which was later won by his son Moonis Elahi as a joint nominee of PML-Q and PTI in the subsequent by-poll in 2018.

QAISARA Elahi
QAISARA Elahi

Meanwhile, responding to a question from the local media about the development, Salik Hussain said he was not comfortable in contesting the poll against his aunt.

He added that the Elahi camp should have withdrawn from the race as Shujaat camp had done previously by leaving the field open for them in Gujrat.

On the other hand, Ms Ms Elahi has forma­lly launched her campaign in Gujrat as pictures of the candidates and party leaders, Imran Khan and Parvez Elahi, are being displayed on social media, in local newspapers and banners etc.

Sources in PTI say that Ms Elahi will have an edge for being a daughter of late Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, the founding father of the politics of Chaudhry clan in Gujrat.

Though the PML-N did not award ticket to any candidate from all the three constituencies, Salik Hussain has reiterated that there was almost no possibility of PML-Q’s seat adjustment with the PML-N, after the latter’s potential candidates did not withdraw from the race and even obtained election symbols.

CHAUDHRY Salik Hussain
CHAUDHRY Salik Hussain

Political observers have said that if PML-N-backed candidates opt for contesting the poll as an independent panel from these seats of Gujrat city, the PTI-backed panel may benefit from the situation.

The divisions in the traditionally inseparable house of the Chaudharys of Gujrat started appearing during the April 2022 vote of no-confidence against Imran Khan`s government.

Now, the family members are going head-to-head in the polls under the banners of different political parties.

Mr Elahi, his wife and son are on the ex-PM’s side.The iconic pairing of Mr Shujaat and Mr Elahi has enjoyed some of the top offices of the land. But now the family`s third generation, i.e. Zahoor Elahi`s grandchildren, seems to have lost the unity that was their strength.

The animosity has spilled over from the political to the personal realm, with various family groups also engaged in a legal battle over the possession of Zahoor Elahi House, the family`s ancestral home in Gujrat city.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2024

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