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Allocation of tickets a tough job for PML-N

February 11, 2013

ATTOCK, Feb 11: As there are too many aspirants, allocation of tickets for the forthcoming general elections has become a tough task for the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) in the district of Attock.

It has been learnt that the provincial assembly constituency of PP-15 Attock-1 has become the most sought-after seat among the PML-N contenders. Sources said Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, a sitting MNA of the PML-N, wants to field his son Sheikh Suleman Sarwar from the seat. Mr Suleman was given the PML-N ticket in 2008 elections but he lost the seat to PPP’s Malik Shahan Khan.This time, the MNA is again trying to get the ticket for his son. Party chief Nawaz Sharif had already expressed support to Mr Suleman’s candidature during a public meeting in Attock a few months back. Moreover, Mr Aftab is also enjoying very close association with the Sharif family because of his support to them even after the 1999 military coup. However, the anti-Aftab lobby inside the party believes that award of tickets should be on merit after taking all the party leaders and workers onboard. They are trying to field PML-N leader Raja Mohammad Saddique who on December 25 had also  announced his willingness to contest election from the same constituency. Raja Saddique has reportedly claimed that he had taken the decision on the insistence of his supporters inside the party. Mr Saddique has applied for the ticket on the hope that he would get it because of his experience. He was elected to the AJK legislative assembly three times on a seat reserved for Kashmiris living in other areas of Pakistan and also worked as a minister in AJK. Besides, he is also a former chairman of the municipal committee Attock and a tehsil nazim Union Council-II, Attock. On the other hand, the MNA is not in a mood to see any hurdle in his way. However, there are also reports about a serious rift between the MNA and his younger brother Sheikh Shahid Mehmood. Sources said the MNA’s brother parted ways from his elder brother a few months back to contest the election from the same constituency as an independent candidate. Likewise, a tug of war is also going on in NA- 59 Attock-III, PP-17-Attock-III and PP-18 Attock-IV where the district general secretary of the PML-N Malik Asif Advocate and MPA Chaudhry Sher Ali have locked horns over the party tickets. Mr Asif, who is a brother-in-law of PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar, wants the ticket for NA- 59 for himself and PPP-17 for former tehsil nazim Shahwaiz Khan and PP-18 for businessman Malik Riasat. Both the provincial constituencies are currently occupied by PML-N’s Chaudhry Sher Ali Khan and his cousin Malik Azam. Mr Asif seems very much optimistic about winning the tickets for the three seats due to strong backing of Chaudhry Nisar. However, such a move will politically alienate Chaudhry Sher Ali  and  Mr Azam. Sher Ali’s lobby has fielded MPA Mr Sher, a strong local feudal landlord, as a potential candidate on NA-59 instead of  Mr Asif in order to give a tough time to the PPP candidate and state minister for defence Sardar Saleem Hydar. Mr Asif contested election from NA-59 against PPP candidate Mr Hydar in 2008 but lost it. The Sher Ali group has also proposed Karamat Tahirkheli for PP-17 and MPA Mr Azam to defend his own seat of PP-18. Obviously the prevailing confrontation would be a big headache for the PML-N leadership. PML-N general secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhagra and provincial president Zulfiqar Khosa could not be contacted for comment.