LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has only given seven names for provincial assembly seats reserved for women in Punjab assembly, while their archrivals Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) has given a list of 50 names for reserved seats in Punjab.
The PTI list comprises PTI Punjab President Dr. Yasmin Rashid, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema, Batool Janjua, Firdous Rai, Shahida Malika, Syeda Zahra Raza and Basima Chaudhry. The PTI has submitted this initial list of nominees for reserved seats to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Political insiders told The Friday Times (TFT) that the PTI women wing’s secretary general Sadia Sohail Rana, who prepared the list of 66 people of women for the reserved seats in previous terms, had also failed to make it to the initial list submitted to the ECP by PTI.
“It was quite shocking that Sadia, who was one of the integral part of PTI’s team and came up with very important legislations for the betterment of women, children and education, was omitted from the initial list,” a former colleague of hers from the Punjab assembly said.
They recalled how Sadia remained loyal to the party through thick and thin, playing a pivotal role and burning the midnight oil to work on legislations regarding minimum age of marriage for girls. This was part of Sadia’s advocacy to bring down the high maternal and neonatal mortality rate in Pakistan.
Sources privy to this development said that it was very strange because, on the one hand, the PTI top brass claims that they will not come back to power in Punjab and the center with a two-thirds majority, but in fact will ‘clean sweep’ the elections. But on the other hand, PTI had only submitted to the ECP names of seven women for reserved seats in Punjab.
“Either PTI is sure that elections are not taking place, or they also think that the elections of Punjab will be held with national and Balochistan and Sindh assemblies,” one political pundits surmised.
Sources privy to this development told TFT that Dr. Yasmin Rashid is at the top of the list since she is the president of PTI in central Punjab.
“Basima Chaudhry’s name was added to the list at the behest of PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, as she is her niece and has also previously served as MPA on Pakistan Muslim League-Q’s ticket,” sources said. Musarrat Jamshed Cheema made it to the list as she and her husband Jamshed Cheema are considered very close to Imran Khan; the couple are considered ‘family members’ of Khan and have stayed loyal to him through good times and bad.
“Musarrat and her husband also spend lavishly on party gatherings and to mobilise workers,” a senior PTI leader said, adding that Musarrat had become “very close to Khan” after his ouster from the government in April last year, and nobody from the media could meet Imran Khan without her consent or approval.
PTI’s game plan
Talking exclusively to TFT, Musarrat said that it was true that PTI gave names of 66 women in the previous term, and this time around the party was “occupied with loads of things” and gave a list of only seven women. “We tried our best to accommodate party workers from all the regions of Punjab,” she said.
“Me and Dr. Yasmin are from central Punjab, while other respectable ladies represent other regions of Punjab, and the name of Syed Zahra Raza was added on the request of MWM as she had also served as our MPA in the previous term, and Basima’s name was added on the request of former CM Elahi, as she has also recently joined the PTI along with him,” Mussarat explained.
Mussarat said the PTI leadership had decided to award party tickets for reserved seats on merit and “without any favouritism”. In this regard, she said a committee had been constituted by chairman Imran Khan that included him, vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, secretary general Asad Umar, PTI Punjab president Dr. Yasmin Rashid, herself and also regional heads of the party, who would all be consulted for additional names.
“Chairman Imran Khan will conduct the interviews of potential candidates appearing before the committee, and then the final list would be prepared”.
“We will complete the interviews, prepare the complete list and give names to the ECP after the elections are done. The list will be based on the number of seats that we secure, which will become clear after the election results are final,” Musarrat said.
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