Islamabad - The senior leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at last came out in the last leg of the election campaign in the first ever-local government election of Islamabad.

Senior PTI leader Asad Umar, who is also member National Assembly from the urban constituency (NA-48) of Islamabad, yesterday formally started his election campaign while addressing two rallies one in Sohan along Islamabad Expressway and other in a posh sector of the capital.

Background interviews with some local PTI workers indicate that PTI election campaign remained slow during the past some weeks as compared to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

While PTI MNA Asad Umar yesterday addressed two rallies as part of his campaign, the other senior leadership of the party has so far ignored the capital. Chairman PTI Imran Khan has started big rallies in Punjab to secure more party seats in the second phase of local government (LG) polls being held on November 19 in Punjab and Sindh. But he did not so far hold a single rally in the federal capital where he held a protest sit-in for more than four months last year.

The first ever LG elections in the capital city are scheduled to be held on November 30. The chairpersons of the 50 union councils of urban and rural areas of Islamabad would choose their maiden mayor for Islamabad Metropolitan.

A PTI local worker informed The Nation while wishing anonymity that internal rifts within the Islamabad chapter of the party had also affected the campaign. The Chairman PTI had tasked some youngsters to run the election campaign but they were fighting with one another, he added. He said that PTI leadership wrongly conceived that it would win the LG election in urban areas of capital as it did in the general election. “But it is misperception, the politics of local bodies elections is different from that of general elections,” he said and added that door-to-door campaign played an important role in these elections and the party is lacking on this front.

However, an office-bearer of PTI Central Information Cell said that Asad Umar has been leading the campaign for the past few days. Asad earlier addressed a number of corner meetings and yesterday’ rallies were the first ones whom he addressed, he said.

Asad Umar while addressing the rally in sector I-8 (UC-40) said, “The PTI has such a force of youth which other parties don’t have.” He said Chairman Imran Khan himself would monitor the performance of the elected representatives from the platform of PTI. The residents of Islamabad have no better option except PTI, he claimed. He also pointed out unavailability of clean drinking water in the capital. He said that teachers and doctors of the capital have been protesting for the past some months against the indifferent attitude of the ruling party.

Raja Shahid Mustafa, PTI’s candidate for the slot of Chairman from Union Council of Noorpur Shahan, said that PTI’s election campaign is going smoothly. However, he said that Asad Umar has so far not visited the area. “Ilyas Mehrban (the losing candidate of PTI from NA-49) is leading the camping while Asad Umar has promised to give us some time,” he said.

On the other hand, local PTI workers themselves claim that PML-N was running the election campaign on a very fast rate in a traditional manner. PML-N MNA from Rawalpindi (NA-54) Malik Abrar and his brother Malik Iftikhar, member of Punjab Assembly, are running election campaign in the rural areas of the capital. Similarly, former PML-N MNA from Islamabad Anjum Aqeel Khan and its sitting MNA from NA-49 Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry are campaigning in a systematic manner for their party.

Asad Umar while talking to The Nation said that he is burning midnight oil to make the election campaign successful in the capital. He said that the party is more focussed on corner meetings. About the question of absence of other senior leadership, he said that Jahangir Khan Tareen is busy in the by-election campaign in his own constituency in Lodhran while Shah Mahmood Qureshi is running the LG polls campaign in South Punjab. “The Islamabad chapter of the party is united to the maximum level except a few complaints of internal rifts,” he said.