The Jamaat-e- Islami’s (JI) Mian Aslam on Monday withdrew his nomination papers for the upcoming NA-48 by-elections on August 22 after the party decided to stay away from by-elections in Punjab and the capital.
During the recently-held general election, Aslam took third spot in the constituency by securing 25,048 votes behind Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Javed Hashmi, who won the seat with 73,878 votes.
Hashmi also won from his native Multan and decided to vacate NA-48. The PTI has awarded a party ticket to Asad Umar, who has already campaigning.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Hanif Abbasi, who lost NA-56 to PTI chief Imran Khan during the general elections, will also be contesting for NA-48.
Competition is now expected to intensify between PTI and PML-N for the seat’s top spot after Aslam’s unexpected withdrawal.
Aslam won NA-48 during the 2002 general elections, but did not defend his seat in 2008 due to a JI boycott of the elections.
The constituency mostly covers urban areas of the capital but also includes a few small villages in western Islamabad.
“There are many reasons why I have boycotted the by-elections. The shortened campaigning time and Ramazan are two of them,’’ said Aslam.
He confirmed that these factors had played a part in the party’s decision to boycott by-elections in all provinces except Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), where JI has made seat adjustments with PTI.
Aslam alleged that the city’s bureaucracy had been tilted in favour of the PML-N-led government, referring to the recent reshuffling in the Capital Development Authority and Islamabad Police.
He said that both the PML-N and PTI candidates for NA-48 were not true representatives of the capital, pointing to Abbasi’s admission that he was forced to contest the constituency, and Umar’s Karachi roots.
Asked whether he would support Umar because of the JI-PTI coalition in K-P, Aslam replied in the negative.
PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel Khan also withdrew his nomination papers for NA-48 a few days back after the party ticket had been awarded to Abbasi, who is facing the ephedrine scam. Over 25 candidates had submitted their nomination papers from the ruling party.
PML-N insiders have told The Express Tribune that party members have serious apprehensions about Abbasi and added that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif played a critical role in his candidature despite stiff resistance. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has also expressed his concerns.
NA-48’s returning officer will be allotting election symbols to all contestants on Tuesday and the list will be finalised on July 31.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.
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