Contrary to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s public assertions of sweeping the general elections, the party’s popularity seems to be crumbling in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) – widely considered to be its stronghold.
Reports of internal rifts over the allotment of tickets are surfacing with party activists accusing the provincial cabinet and parliamentary board members of favouritism and ignoring ideological party workers.
Several notable leaders such as Hazara Region President Ali Asghar, provincial youth wing’s former president Murad Saeed from Swat, Shibli Faraz from Kohat, Ziaullah Afridi from Peshawar, Nadeem Khan from Mardan and provincial leader Hashim Baber were not considered for party tickets to contest the polls under PTI’s banner.
Furthermore, on PK-83 constituency of Swat, a party ticket was given to Azmat Ali Khan who is the son-in-law of Azam Swati and has recently joined PTI, whereas in Nowshera, tickets were given to those loyal to Pervaiz Khattak instead of old party leaders from the district. Similarly, in NA-2, a ticket was given to former bureaucrat Khalid Masood instead of Hamidul Haq and Faheem Khan.
Party activists accused the provincial parliamentary board members of unfairly allotting a ticket to Arbab Jhandad, a relative of former Awami National Party K-P agriculture minister Arbab Ayub Jan.
Hashim Baber told The Express Tribune the district cabinets were given 24 hours to shortlist candidates for party tickets, while those who lost the intra-party elections were not even included in the parliamentary board.
“The provincial parliamentary board’s decisions were made against PTI’s policy, and party workers at the grassroot level were not consulted regarding electable candidates,” said Baber, alleging tickets were only distributed among Azam Swati’s and Pervaiz Khattak’s groups.
Consequently, Baber has decided to contest elections as an independent candidate.
PTI’s provincial leadership is also facing criticism from Insaf Youth Wing leaders over not allotting 25% of the total seats to youth candidates as was previously pledged by PTI Chairperson Imran Khan. Under the policy, youth (below the age of 35) affiliated with PTI should have been allotted tickets for seven seats out of 35 for the National Assembly from K-P, and 25 seats for the provincial assembly out of the 99 general seats. However, the ground reality goes against the announced promise, claimed members of the youth wing.
Taking notice of growing differences within the party, the central leadership has decided to convene a review meeting of the central parliamentary board on Sunday (today) in which final decisions will be taken regarding allotment of tickets, said former K-P Insaf Student Federation President Hussain Akhunzada.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013.