ISLAMABAD - Following the dispute over the award of party tickets in Hazara Division, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbassi stepped out of electoral race for upcoming general elections and so did his son who was contesting on the party ticket from NA-16.

Sources aware of the tussle informed The Nation that Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Ahmed Abbasi, who had also served as Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, wanted party ticket from Abbottabad (NA-15) but on the recommendation of PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-chapter president Engineer Amir Muqam the ticket was awarded to former speaker National Assembly Murtaza Javid Abbasi.

Although the party had awarded ticket to Sardar Mehtab’s son Sheryar Mehtab from NA-16 and the family was also accommodated by award of ticket to his bother-in-law Sardar Ghulam Fareed from PP-36, he still felt dissatisfied and insisted on getting party ticket from NA-15, which he considered his home constituency.

A senior party leader from Hazara Division informed that the resentment of Sardar Mehtab Abbassi was more than not granting him the party ticket as he was not happy over the way Engineer Amir Muqam had made inroads in the party and become close to party supremo Nawaz Sharif.

He was also having strong objections over the weight-age being given to Muqam in award of party tickets in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in Hazara Division where all the tickets were awarded on his recommendations.

The eleventh hour withdrawal of Sardar Mehtab Abbassi and his son Sardar Sheryar Mehtab from electoral race has pushed the party in difficult position as they have to make alternate arrangements of candidates in hurry as the brother-in-law of Sardar Mehtab Abasi Sardar Ghulam Fareed has also returned the party ticket and decided to be in the arena as an independent candidate.

Party leaders informed that on NA-16 the party has awarded ticket to another veteran Muslim Leaguer from Abbottabad city Malik Mahabat Khan. In 2013 general elections when Malik Mahabat Khan was not awarded party ticket he decided to contest as an independent candidate from this constituency and secured 23,000 votes.

Similarly from PP-36 where Sardar Ghulam Fareed has returned the party ticket PML-N had sought a day’s time from returning officer for award of party ticket and efforts are being made to convince Sardar Ghulam Fareed to contest on party ticket and in case they would fail to bring him round the seat would be left open and at some later stage PML-N would extend support to some independent.

Political analysts saw the development as big blow to the PML-N politics in Hazara particularly Abbottabad valley.

These sources said that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had tried to convince Sardar Mehtab Abbasi that the party would accommodate him somewhere else but Mehtab Abbassi struck to his position and expressed serious reservations over the preferential treatment given to Engineer Muqam over the loyal veteran Muslim Leaguers.

Sardar Mehtab Abbassi was not in the good books of Nawaz Sharif since the controversy over the renaming of NWFP as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as at that time Sardar Mehtab Abbassi was leading the campaign of giving nomenclature of Hazara Pakhtunkhwa to NWFP instead of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

At that time Sardar Mehtab Abbassi even threatened to quit the party but later somehow the matter was resolved by giving certain assurances to Mehtab group.

Following the episode Capt(Retd) Safdar also had an ugly episode with Sardar Mehtab Abbassi after which the decision of bringing an alternate leadership in Hazara was made and Capt(Retd) Safdar along with Murtaza Javid Abbassi had formed a formidable group in Hazara and Mehtab Group was successfully countered within the party.