LOWER DIR: The position of Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf strengthened in Lower Dir as several candidates contesting for PK-14, PK-15 and NA-7 on Thursday announced to withdraw in favour of the nominees backed by the party in these constituencies.

The candidate of Rabita Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (RJUI) for NA-7 Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan withdrew in favour of PTI candidate Syed Mahboob Shah while the party candidate for PK-15 Bahadarzeb also withdrew in favour of PTI nominee former MPA Humayun Khan.

They made the announcement at a press conference in Chakdara Press Club and said that both PTI and RJUI were allies.

Maulana Gul Naseeb, who is also general secretary of his party, said that PTI chief Imran Khan was in jail so they could not leave him alone. He said that RJUI voters would fully support PTI candidates in both the constituencies and would gift both the seats to Imran Khan.

Another PTI disgruntled candidate Mohammad Inam Khan, who was contesting for NA-7, also withdrew in favour of PTI nominee Syed Mahboob Shah. Former speaker of National Assembly Asad Qaiser along with other leaders of PTI visited the residence of Inam the other day and convinced him to withdraw in favour of the candidate backed by the party.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Qaiser said that PTI was passing through a critical period and all disgruntled workers should withdraw for the sake of party founder Imran Khan. He said that party would offer a good position to Malik Inam Khan in future.

In another development, PTI former district president Ghulam Hussain also announced to withdraw in favour of party candidate for PK-14 and former MPA Mohammad Azam Khan. He was contesting for PK-14 as an independent candidate and a large number of party workers were supporting him.

He made the announcement at a press conference in Timergara Press Club in the presence of Azam Khan, PTI tehsil chairman Naseeb Rawan, village council chairman Kalimullah, Malik Ziaul Haq and others.

Speaking on the occasion, said that a jirga of party senior leaders convinced him to withdraw in favour of Azam Khan.

Meanwhile, police took PTI candidates for NA-7 Syed Mahboob Shah and PK-16 Malik Shafiullah into custody briefly when they were coming to attend a workers’ rally in Timergara. They were released after an hour.

PTI workers, led by their tehsil president Iqbal Ahmad Tajik, former tehsil councillor Kashif Kamal and Mohammad Inam Khan, inaugurated the party’s election office in Timergara. They condemned the arrest of PTI candidates and demanded their immediate release.

They said that PTI candidates and workers were being pressured to keep them away from the Feb 8 general elections. They said that despite all odds, PTI would sweep polls in all constituencies in Lower Dir.

However, PTI is still facing rifts in NA-6, PK-17 and PK-18 where its disgruntled activists on Thursday refused to withdraw from the race.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2024

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