BAHAWALPUR: Former federal minister Tariq Bashir Cheema has restored his old association with his former allies Dr Muhammad Afzal and Chaudhry Ehsanul Haq, both former MPAs.

This move will strengthen his position against PML-N candidates in NA-165, PP-247, and PP-248.

Both Dr Afzal and Mr Haq, as PML-Q candidates, were elected MPAs along with Mr Cheema (as MNA) in 2018. With the bifurcation of the PML-Q after the no-confidence move against the PTI government in 2022 and the joining of former chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi with the PTI, both former MPAs had sided with Mr Elahi and severed their ties with Mr Cheema. Since then, both former MPAs had been pursuing their own political paths.

Mr Haq’s nomination papers were filed for PP-247. Mr Cheema has filed his nomination papers for NA-165, and the PML-N has not nominated any candidate against Mr Cheema, resulting in PML-N’s Chaudhry Saood Majid running as an independent candidate.

Close associates of Mr Majid claim that the PML-N high command has promised him a PML-N ticket for the Senate election due in March. However, the PML-N awarded tickets to Khalid Jajja and Saood Majid’s nephew Saad Masood for PP-247 and PP-248. Mr Cheema and his son Wali Dad Cheema are candidates for NA-165 and PP-247 (Yazman).

By restoring his relationship with Dr Afzal, Mr, and his uncle Chaudhry Abdul Jabbar (former chairman of the Yazman MC), Mr Cheema has played a strategic card to gain political advantage.

Dawn learned that Mr Cheema had discussions with Mr Jabbar, Dr Afzal, and Mr Haq at the residence of Mr Jabbar on Wednesday night. Now, they have announced complete support to Mr Cheema and his son in the elections.

DECISION: Samiullah Chaudhry, a PTI candidate for NA-168 (Bahawalpur city), claims that the larger bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) has declared him eligible to contest the Feb 8 election.

In a video statement posted on social media, former PTI minister Chaudhry, who is still in hiding, appealed to his party members and workers to continue canvassing for him.

The official circles here, when contacted, confirmed to Dawn the larger bench’s decision in Samiullah’s favour but added that the written judgment of LHC’s larger bench was still awaited.

Earlier, the LHC’s larger bench had also declared PTI district president Asghar Joyia eligible to contest for PP-253 (Bahawalpur city).

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2024

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