The Supreme Court of Pakistan’s June 19 directive of re-polls in NA-19, Haripur opened the floodgates for internal rifts in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to rise to the surface.
After Omar Ayub Khan bowed out of the race over his mother’s illness, Babar Nawaz Khan emerged as a ‘consensus candidate’ against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Dr Raja Amir Zaman. Unhappy with the party’s performance in local government polls, numerous PML-N leaders have drawn the line against the ways of the party leadership.
PML-N Haripur Vice President Malik Kareem Dad is leading the line of disgruntled workers. “If our concerns are not addressed within 48 hours, we will field an independent candidate against Babar,” he said. The group which includes Safeer Nawaz, Samiullah Khan, Zahoor Khan, Maqsoodur Rehman, Malik Abdul Sattar, Zubair Khan, Seth Naveed, Seth Saifullah, Masood Javed and Wajaht Jaffri amongst the notables also arranged a press conference at a local hotel on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Safeer said the party had a track record of taking last minute decisions without taking any activists into confidence. “We have witnessed the results of such policies in the 2013 general elections and a repeat in the LB polls,” he added.
Masood said when the party decided to allot Omar a ticket during the May 11, 2013 general elections, it overruled the local leadership which was against the decision because of Omar and his father Gohar Ayub’s role in the Musharraf administration. “He deserted the party on the pretext of his mother’s illness,” said Samiullah. He blamed the party’s leadership for PML-N’s abysmal performance in the LB polls.
Also speaking on the occasion, party activist Liaquat Khan said the group had no personal grudges with Babar. “It is the party leadership that uses loyalists in testing times and ignores them when the storm has passed.” The 20-member group vowed not to budge from its stand and to field its own candidate against Babar within the next two days.
When approached for a comment, PML-N Haripur President Sahibzada Hamid Shah and his uncle PML-N Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa President Pir Sabir Shah were not available for a comment.
Meanwhile Babar remained unaffected by the uproar against his nomination. According to him, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif okayed his nomination while party leaders like Omar, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, MNA Capt (retd) Safdar, Senator General (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi and even local activists like Major (retd) Habibullah Tareen and Qazi Muhammad Asad have thrown weight behind him. “The disgruntled party workers will soon be taken on board over the decision,” he added.
The re-election in the constituency is scheduled for August 16. Nomination papers can be filed on June 6 and 7. So far Babar, Dr Raja, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Pir Alam Zeb Shah and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Haji Tahir Qureshi have obtained nomination forms from the DRO office.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.