WAH CANTT - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has awarded party ticket to three dissidents of PML-Q on one National Assembly and two provincial assembly seats of the area makes mockery of PTI's mantra of new faces and slogan of change.
Closely watching and observing the changing political scenario, local political Pundits are of the view that no "new face" has been granted PTI ticket in the area, proving the old political saying "old wine in new bottles."
They said that though, PTI Chief Imran Khan had announced to bring new, honest and transparent faces in the party, has inducted only "old political faces".
Political observers were of the view that Imran Khan's litmus test was the distribution of party tickets. He time and again stated that 25 per cent of the party tickets would be given to the youth.
However, in award of tickets in Taxila, situation is contrary to the aspirations of the party diehard workers. The award of ticket for National Assembly seat to Ghulam Sarwar Khan who served as federal Minister in General (Retd) Musharraf era also remained PML-Q Vice President for two years after his exit from power while earlier he contested polls two times for provincial assembly seat on PPP ticket.
Sadeeq Khan, PTI candidate for provincial assembly seat PP-7 is younger brother of Sarwar Khan remained Tehsil Nazim in Musharraf era and served as district General Secretary of Q for long time.
While Tamoor Masoud, PTI candidate for provincial assembly PP-8 of Wah Cantt contested 2008 elections on PML-Q league ticket.
The political observers said that this was the same old guards, who had been tried by the public but they switched loyalties after enjoying perks and privileges with their former patrons.
They said that award of tickets to dissidents has made mockery of PTI's slogan of change. The old guard and diehard party workers who associated to the party in all seasons, especially Mansoor Siddiqui and Khawaja Imtiaz advocate, were knocked out by a new comer in party ranks which raised many eye brows and shocked the party workers.
"With the ascent of party after the struggle of more than a decade, electable took over the helms of party and committed workers were sidelined," Said Mansoor Siddiqui, an old guard of the party in the area who also member central executive committee. "People have not supported PTI for presenting the old wine in new bottle in the shape of Quereshis, Tareens, Qasooris, Maliks and Sheikhs," said Asif Zia, former organizer of PTI Tehsil Taxila, who filed nomination papers from Taxila but withdrew it when party has not awarded him ticket. He quoted that statement of PTI Chief Imran Khan press conference of April 15 in Islamabad in which he claimed that "his party had changed the culture of "musical chairs" and same old faces could not bring change and tickets".
He termed the statement as true lie. An old guard of PTI Khawaja Muhammad Imtiaz advocate, member central executive committee member who denied party ticket has said that has claimed that party has been 'hijacked' by mafia groups and was just like other political parties; actual workers are being ignored and merit is being violated. "I was PTI's candidate in 1997 and 2002 general elections when being a PTI ticket holder was a symbol of shame. But today when newcomers have started showing interest in acquiring PTI tickets, we have been ignored. We played a key role in PTI's promotion, not only in Pakistan but also in Britain and other European countries," he said. He said that sidelining the old guards and loyal workers, tickets from PP-8 and PP-7 have also been given to those who joined PTI six months ago. "These mafia groups cannot bring a revolution which Imran Khan has promised," he added.
"People in our constituency are anxious. Protest is our political and democratic right and we will take this issue at every level," Khawaja said. Back in year 2007, Imran Khan appointed Khawaja Muhammad Imtiaz Advocate as PTI President for London.
Committing on the issue, Sarwar Khan who is leading his group has said that party has awarded ticket to his team on pure merit. He said that only he has personal vote bank of over 40 thousand voters in the area. He said that he changes the party on the demand of his supporters and PTI has give him room in the party due to his vote bank, popularity and credibility.
He said that old guard are welcomed to join his ranks and he would give them due respect and honour and his door are open for them but they are no where to challenge their rival especially heavyweight politicians like PML-N Ch Nisar Ali Khan.
He said that in such circumstances, they have every right to do their mind, adding that Imran Khan was the hope for the oppressed people for bringing great political revolution in Pakistan.
Senior party leaders, in an interaction with this reporter ruled out that the elections would prove a hard nut to crack for the new inductees, who will have difficulties in holding on to high offices. They said that the old guards have no strong vote bank and due to lack of popularity of ideological workers while new inductees would able to bring the party in to a winning position. Sources revealed that a majority of PTI workers were ready to vote for Khan group while the old party stalwart Khawaja Imtiaz would be no where in election race as the family vote bank would also be divided as his elder brother Khawja Waqar Khan contesting under JI flag.
Moreover, the distribution of tickets among the candidates of PTI has deepened rift in the party as one old guard of the party who denied ticket and disgruntled applicant has decided to contest the upcoming elections independently in Taxila. It seems that due to present situation in the party ranks would to divide party vote bank in the area. It may be recalled here that internal rifts among party ranks came under spot light when two different groups have filed their nomination papers on the last day of filing nomination papers with the party flags.
Recent surveys amply showed that PTI registered decline and its main rival in area PML-N staged a stunning comeback in terms of popular ratings. Rifts in the wake of award of tickets have also surfaced and dented PTI rise.
PTI political strategy committee urgently needs to evolve its strategy to repair the dent for the maximum electoral gain with minimum damage to the party outlook and philosophy.