Bitter allies join hands against unkind PTIPakistan
RAWALPINDI: Sheikh Rashid’s Awami Muslim League and Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek drew new battle lines by agreeing on Monday to support each other’s candidates in the cantonment elections in the garrison city on April 25.
Both the parties had been feeling bitter that the local chapter of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chose to go solo into the local government elections, ignoring the crucial support they had provided to the PTI in its dharna in Islamabad six months ago.
A senior PAT leader did not consider the decision an ideal one but would cause worry to PTI in any case as it would divide the anti-government vote.
“We will teach a lesson to our unwise friends who wanted to cash the anti-government sentiments while betraying their allied parties,” he told Dawn.
Asked for comments, PTI MPA Arif Abbasi agreed that his party should have coordinated with all those who had supported it in sit-ins. But it was the responsibility of PTI Rawalpindi Chapter office who failed to get support from allies, he told Dawn.
Local pundits think that by joining hands, the AML and PAT have broken their political isolation and would enter the contest on Saturday with more confidence.
Sheikh Rashid has fielded 12 candidates for the 20 seats of the Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonment Boards elections. Dr Tahirul Qadri’s PAT has fielded two candidates, and is supporting three independent candidates.
PAT’s retired brigadier Mushtaq Malik, Malik Afzal and Ghulam Ali visited Lal Haveli and held meeting with Sheikh Rashid. They agreed to support each other’s candidates in 12 wards, excluding the Ward No.1 of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board.
Dawn has learnt that AML wanted PAT to support its candidate in that ward but PAT refused. So the candidates of both parties contest election would be facing each other there.
A senior local PAT leader tried to rationalize the situation by observing that the presence of both the political parties in the cantonment election was worth it as they enjoy large support in the contested wards.
AML President Sheikh Rashid confirmed that Imran Khan had asked the Rawalpindi chapter of his party to contact him (Sheikh Rashid) but they did not. “If they had come to me, I would have definitely supported Imran Khan’s party,” said the AML president.
“We wanted to contest the elections with Imran Khan but his party did not contact me. So I have fielded 12 candidates. I had to decide in haste otherwise AML would have been putting candidates in all the 20 wards,” he said, looking upset at the PTI ignoring his party in the electoral matters.
Sheikh Rashid is an old player of electoral politics of the garrison city as he contested the local bodies elections in 1980’s and rose to a leader of national stature from there.
He said he has started preparing the strategy for the upcoming local government elections in the province and promised to “give surprise to many”.
PAT Coordinator for Rawalpindi, Ahmed Nawaz Anjum, also is bitter at the PTI for going solo in the cantonment board elections. “We will not include PTI in our alliance in coming days,” he told Dawn.
“Neither the PTI contacted PAT for discussing an electoral alliance nor did we ask them to support our candidates,” he said insisting that both PAT and AML “enjoy large support in cantonment areas and would play a decisive role in Saturday’s elections.
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2015
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