ISLAMABAD: Amid serious differences over award of tickets to certain heavyweights – including Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Hanif Abbasi – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to announce its candidates for the upcoming general elections in Lahore today (Sunday).
The PML-N’s parliamentary board has interviewed the candidates to finalise party ticket-holders over the last few days.
Sources said the PML-N has finalised major candidates to contest the general elections for the National Assembly as well as Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies while the seats where the candidates have yet to be finalised would be announced later — including some seats of Sindh and Balochistan.
Party sources said members of the Sharif family – including PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz and Maryam Nawaz – are expected to contest elections from Lahore.
Other party candidates, who are likely to get party tickets from their respective constituencies include Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khawaja Salman Rafique, Abid Sher Ali, Daniyal Aziz, Talal Chaudhry, Pervaiz Malik, Mian Javaid Latif, Sohail Shaukat Butt, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Anjum Aqeel Khan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Zaeem Qadri, Afzal Khokhar, Malik Ibrar, Mehr Ishtiaq, Malik Riaz, Rana Sanaullah, Rana Iqbal, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, Rana Mashood, Murtaza Abbasi, Ameer Muqam, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha, Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan, Abdul Qadir Baloch and Sanaullah Zehri.
In Rawalpindi Division, the PML-N is facing a major challenge as the party’s top command is locked in serious differences over the award of tickets to heavyweights Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Hanif Abbasi.
According to PML-N insiders, party supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is not in favour of awarding tickets to Nisar and Hanif.
On the other hand, Shehbaz is in favour of awarding tickets to both. Nisar has not applied for the PML-N ticket and announced contesting the elections from Rawalpindi.
This is said to have offended Sharif, who is of the view that Nisar should not have made such an announcement and applied for the ticket.
The PML-N insiders said the former interior minister had no plans to apply for the party ticket to contest the general elections.
“He [Nisar] takes pride in declaring that he never applied for the PML-N ticket but always got one without asking for. For a person like him, making a formal application for the PML-N ticket is an insult. He will never do this,” said a PML-N Punjab chapter member, indicating the possibility that Nisar might be denied the party ticket.
Regarding Abbasi, the party insiders said differences between the former MNA from Rawalpindi and Sharif surfaced when the latter was embarking on a rally via GT Road from Islamabad to Lahore to protest his ouster in the Panamagate case in July last year.
Reportedly, Sharif was not satisfied with the arrangements Abbasi had made for the rally in Rawalpindi, and the senior leader has since been sidelined from the party’s affairs. However, Abbasi enjoys close association with Shehbaz who is pressing for the award of ticket to him.
The PML-N sources said low turnout of applications was embarrassing for the party president since reluctance of the candidates to apply for PML-N tickets not only gave credence to reports that powerful political candidates were generally preferring the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf but also validated the perception that the PML-N was struggling to stay united under the leadership of Shehbaz without the elder Sharif at the helm.