ISLAMABAD: Following reports of resentment among Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) activists over the distribution of tickets, the party has decided to constitute “reconciliatory committees” that would attempt to sort out differences ahead of the July 25 polls.
The decision comes only a day after the PTI announced tickets for 173 National Assembly constituencies and 290 constituencies of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assemblies. It was announced at a meeting of the PTI’s media strategy team, which was presided over by chairman Imran Khan at his Banigala residence on Saturday.
The main gripe among party workers from a large number of constituencies in Punjab and KP has been the PTI leadership’s decision to award tickets to many of the new entrants who had joined the PTI after quitting the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). There have even been reports of protests in some places.
During the day on Saturday, dozens of party workers from Rawalpindi and some KP areas staged a sit-in in front of the PTI chief’s Banigala residence to protest against the party’s decision to award a ticket to a former MNA from Taxila, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who hails from Rawalpindi.
Imran’s decision to contest elections from five constituencies dubbed a campaign strategy
In the second phase of awarding tickets, the PTI announced the names of several new candidates. Prominent among them include former minister of the PPP government Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, former MNA Shaharyar Afridi and prominent party leader Shaukat Yousufzai.
According to an announcement by the party on Saturday, Firdous Ashiq Awan will contest the election on a PTI ticket from NA72 Sialkot, whereas Shaharyar Afridi will be fielded in Kohat and Shaukat Yousufzai in Shangla.
In a major decision, party loyalist Hameeda Shahid has been awarded a ticket to contest election for a National Assembly constituency in the conservative Upper Dir. The party claims it has intentionally fielded a woman in the area known for barring women from participating in elections.
Talking to Dawn, PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry said the reconciliatory committees were being constituted at central, provincial and district levels to take workers and office-bearers into confidence over decisions taken by the party leadership.
Admitting that there were reports of the party members expressing their dismay over the selection of candidates, Mr Chaudhry expressed the hope that the reconciliatory committees would help the party overcome the crisis.
The PTI information secretary said that differences over the issue among workers were to be expected as it was not possible for any party to accommodate all aspirants. He said that the party had fielded “very strong candidates and political heavyweights”, particularly in Punjab.
Responding to a question, Mr Chaudhry claimed that there were nearly a dozen constituencies in Punjab where there were differences among workers over the candidates selected by the party. He agreed that there was more resentment among workers over the distribution of party tickets in KP than in Punjab.
In an attempt to pacify disgruntled workers, PTI chairman Imran Khan had on Friday issued a video message, telling them to understand that party ticket was not everything. “Today party’s parliamentary board has announced tickets. It was a difficult task to selecte candidates from among 500 applicants,” he said. He urged the party leaders and workers not to get disappointed and to keep their focus on the upcoming polls.
Mr Khan is contesting elections from five different constituencies of the National Assembly — NA-53 Islamabad, NA-35 Bannu, NA-95 Mianwali, NA-131 Lahore and NA-243 Karachi.
When asked about the reason for fielding Mr Khan from five constituencies, Mr Chaudhry said it was a part of the ‘campaign strategy’. He said when a popular leader contests elections from a key constituency, it motivates workers and activists in adjoining constituencies as well.
When asked about Mr Khan’s decision to not contest election from any constituency in Balochistan, Mr Chaudhry said the matter was discussed in detail, and the PTI leadership decided not to field an outsider since there weren’t enough constituencies in the province.
Mr Chaudhry, who will be contesting the polls from Jhelum, said it was true that the party had given most of the tickets at the national level to experienced and seasoned politicians, but added that a large number of young activists were given tickets for provincial assembly seats.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2018