Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf heavyweights Mehmoodur Rasheed and Abdul Aleem Khan will battle it out for the post of Lahore chapter president at party elections scheduled for February 26. The contest represents a battle within the PTI between the old and the new, according to party leaders.
Rasheed has a history with the party dating back 15 years and played a key role in arranging the October 30, 2011, ‘tsunami’ in Lahore that first signalled the PTI as a new electoral force in the country. Khan, a real estate tycoon, only joined the PTI after the gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan.
Rasheed, formerly with the Jamaat-i-Islami, joined Imran Khan in 1997. A few years later, he left the PTI, too, to join the PML-Zia led by Ijazul Haq, son of the former dictator Gen Ziaul Haq. He returned to the PTI in 2007 and served as the head of the party’s Lahore chapter. He has the backing of PTI leaders Ejaz Chaudhry, Asghar Gujjar and Dr Yasmeen Rashid.
Khan, who joined the PTI in April 2012, is a well-known tycoon who made much of his wealth in real estate. He had also served as minister in the cabinet of Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, chief minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007. Khan has a reputation in the party as an expert in “the art of investment to win elections,” said party leaders.
Rasheed is the candidate of the PTI’s Ideology Group, which is fielding Dr Atifuddin and Zaheer Abbas Khokhar as Lahore senior vice presidents. The group is yet to decide between Sheikh Imtiaz, Yasir Gilani and Farhat Abbas for general secretary candidate.
Khan is the Lahore president candidate for the Unity Group. Abdul Rasheed Bhatti for general secretary, and Hamid Miraj and Hammad Azhar for senior vice presidents are his running mates for the party elections for Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2013.