ISLAMABAD - The controversy of old and new faces in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is fast becoming palpable in South Punjab, which may compel most of Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz members to contest the upcoming general elections independently.

The JPSM members who have entered into an alliance with PTI may not easily get tickets from PTI chief Imran Khan to contest the next general polls, which will leave them with no option but to contest the elections as independent candidates.

The joining of a large number of candidates from South Punjab has created a difficulty for PTI to award tickets to the members who had raised the voice for South Punjab province, political sources told The Nation.

The main members of JPSM, the sources said, will soon hold a decisive meeting to chalk out a strategy for the upcoming polls. According to the sources, most of the JPSM members were of the view to contest elections independently and join PTI after the polls’ results.

The sources claimed the main leader of JPSM, Khusro Bakhtiar, is also contemplating to avoid controversy and contest election independently. The main reason behind the ticket controversy is the presence of two or three members in each constituency of South Punjab.

A controversy could erupt between Zeeshan Gormani (JPSM member) and old and strong member of PTI, Niaz Gihkori, over the ticket issue.

Another JPSM member, Alamdar Qureshi, is also a candidate in the presence of old guard, Farooq Khar. Likewise, PTI will have to choose Wasit Sultan Bokhari (JPSM member) or Moazzam Jatoi (PTI) for the upcoming polls.

When contacted, Khusro Bakhtiar said the controversy surrounding the award of the tickets was not limited to one party as almost all big parties were facing a similar situation. “We (JPSM) will definitely hold a meeting with PTI chief Imran Khan to award tickets to the most suitable candidates for the upcoming elections,” Bakhtiar said, mentioning there was no big controversy over the award of tickets.

South Punjab politicians are taking the lead in changing loyalties just prior to the upcoming general elections.

The SPSM had recently decided to merge with the PTI and to contest the elections from the platform of Khan’s party. This merger was aimed at defeating both PML-N and PPP candidates in South Punjab.

A large number of turncoats from the area recently emerged in the shape of an ‘independent group’ with the slogan of ‘Junoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz’. They later held a meeting with the PTI leadership and expressed their loyalty to the party. The South Punjab area has always seen interesting contests, as almost in every election, close relatives face each other. Political pundits say most of the JPSM members will not get PTI tickets and go for the polls as independents.

Although both the PTI and the SPSM made the decision to avert the split of votes, the ticket controversy could create cracks.