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CHAKWAL, July 20: The whispers about cracks appearing in the ranks of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf’s Chakwal chapter appeared true to life the other day when the party’s old and devout leaders and workers gave full vent to their anger against the heavyweight politicians who joined the party of late.

PTI’s local leaders Chaudhry Rizwan Akram and Asad Ali Shah – two of the dedicated leaders of the party in the district – arranged a gathering in honour of the workers who had been striving hard since the beginning of membership drive. Party’s regional organiser Brig (retired) Tipu Sultan was the chief guest and other influential politicians like former District Nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas, his nephew (former Tehsil Nazim) Sardar Aftab Akbar, former MNA Sardar Faiz Tamman and former MPA Col (retired) Sultan Surkhru, who recently plunged into the ranks of the PTI, were also invited to the gathering but despite their alleged assurances of participation, they did not turn up.

The function was to be started at 11am on Thursday. However, it was postponed till 2pm as the workers and other leaders kept waiting for aforementioned leaders but to no avail. Ch Ali Nasir Bhatti was the only one among the new entrants who attended the event in the end.

Asad Ali Shah, president PTI’s Labour Wing delivered a highly passionate and moving speech in which he spilled the beans, criticising openly the leaders who did not attend the function. “Politicians who recently joined the party are finding it hard to digest our hard work as they do not want new and honest faces come to the fore”, he said.

“I am the son of a poor man who had nothing to do with politics. I joined PTI as it appeared to be the sole ray of hope for a bright future of the country.

“But now we are witnessing that those who recently switched their loyalties to join PTI are only struggling to promote their vested interests”, he added.

“Our legs are being pulled”, he continued and alleged that those who were the right hand of Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto were now part of the PTI.

Mr Akram also expressed his concern over the behaviour of the leaders saying, “I invited all leaders and they assured me that they would come but they not only dejected me and the low-ranking workers of the party but also harmed the party’s repute”, he complained.

“Sardar Faiz Tamman even told me that he was on the way but he too did not come”, he moaned.

PTI’s Regional Organiser, Brig (retired) Tipu Sultan asked workers and leaders not to lose hope. “Tickets would only be given to the loyal and honest candidates”, he assured. He explained that 17 persons would be elected from every union council who would constitute an electoral panel and the electoral panel would then recommend the names of candidates which would be approved after getting a go ahead from the parliamentary committee.

When contacted, Sardar Ghulam Abbas told Dawn that he was not informed about the function in time. “I was in Islamabad and they informed me at 11am, that’s why I could not attend the event”, he clarified. He added that the event should have been properly planned and invitations given at least a week ago. When asked about the cracks in party’s Chakwal chapter, he replied: “I’m satisfied with the head office, however, at the local level there are some outspoken youths who need to be trained”.

When approached, Sardar Faiz Tamman said that he could not attend the event as he had some prior commitments. “If I were not busy I would have attended the event”, he maintained. He, however, confirmed that there was some tension in the party’s Chakwal chapter. “The matters would be settled soon”, he claimed.

On contact, Col (retired) Sultan Surkhru said that he could not attend the meeting as he had guests at home. He also confirmed that there were some problems in the rank and file of party’s local chapter. “The need of the hour is that all local leaders should sit together”, he suggested and hoped the matters would be fixed soon.