Not for show: PTI senator accused of sowing discord

PESHAWAR: A provincial assembly candidate in Mansehra has criticised her party’s senator for extending support to an independent candidate competing against her, in violation of the party chief’s directives.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had fielded Zahida Sabeel from PK-34 Mansehra V, a constituency where 10 other candidates are also in the running.

Speaking to The Express Tribune via telephone, Sabeel claimed that her party was in a strong position in the area.

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However, she complained that senior party leader and Senator Azam Khan Swati was supporting her rival, independent candidate Shahzada Gushtasap Khan.

This action, she claimed, had resulted in confusion amongst party workers over who the party was really backing in the area.

Sabeel explained that Shahzada had applied for a PTI party ticket from PK-34. However, the party leadership awarded her the ticket. Despite the fact that PTI Chief Imran Khan had urged party workers who were overlooked for tickets to withdraw against the party’s nominated candidate, Shahzada has persevered.

But with Swati lending support to Shahzada, Sabeel blamed the senator for the confusion and urged the party leadership to take notice of the issue.

Failing which, she feared that the party vote would be divided come election day.

To a question, Sabeel said that she was sure that the people will vote for PTI, especially the women of the area.

“People are happy that the party took the right decision and award a ticket to a deserving candidate and everywhere in the constituency people encourage and supported me,” she claimed.

Sabeel, who had graduated with a masters in international relations, says she is keen to work for the uplift of area women and provide them education opportunities on their doorstep.

She hails from a political family with her mother contesting the May 2013 general elections from the same constituency on Pakistan People Party (PPP) ticket. That election was won by Al Haj Ibrar Hussain of the Tehreek-e-Pasmanda Awam Pakistan who secured 20,022 votes compared to independent candidate Habibur Rehman Tanoli who got 16,007 votes.

Sabeel also rejected the suggestion that the PTI, like other parties, had awarded tickets for general seats to women candidates in areas where they were expected to lose owing to their weak position.

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She contended that the people of the area had expressed their support for the party ideology and not a particular candidate.

PK-34 Mansehra-V, which was known as PK-57 before the recent delimitations, will see 11 candidates compete for the polls on July 25.

Last week, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Commission for the Status of Women and Aurat Foundation in a joint press conference had criticised different political parties who had failed to adhere to the election law of ensuring that five per cent of all tickets for direct election is awarded to women.

The commission had also slammed parties for awarding tickets to women in constituencies where their position was weak and the tickets were awarded to meet the legal requirement only.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2018.

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