PTI going around in circles

  • Mehmoodur Rasheed announces names of Orya Maqbool Jan, Hassan Askari and Yaqub Izhar, Fawad Chaudhry names Ayaz Amir instead of Jan in tweet
  • Rasheed claims Imran Khan had approved Jan’s name, Chaudhry claims Jan’s name was considered but does not feature in final list


LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) about-turns over the nomination for the post of Punjab caretaker chief minister continued on Friday with former opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed naming ex-bureaucrat and anchorperson Orya Maqbool Jan as one of the three nominees for the position and party’s spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry denying his candidacy.

Earlier in the day, Rasheed had announced the names of Orya Maqbool Jan, businessman Yaqoob Izhar and political analyst Professor Hassan Askari as the party’s nominees for the position after holding a meeting with Punjab Assembly speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal. The PTI leader told journalists that the two sides would name a consensus candidate by Sunday.

A storm erupted on the social media soon after Rasheed announced Orya Maqbool Jan’s name during a conversation with journalists, as people criticised the PTI for considering the hardliner Jan for the coveted position.

However, shortly after Rasheed announced the names, PTI Spokesman Fawad Chaudhry shared on twitter “three names” proposed by the party for the provincial caretaker CM, omitting Jan from the list and replacing it with columnist Ayaz Amir. According to the PTI spokesman, an agreement on the name was expected by Saturday evening.

Talking to a private news channel, Chaudhry admitted that there was a “communication gap” in the party. “Maybe Rasheed did not see the names […] there was some confusion. The party had three names which were presented by me.”

The spokesman admitted that Jan’s name was also discussed by the party’s four-member core committee but his name was not among those approved by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. He further alleged that Jan’s name was taken by Rasheed out of his own accord.

On the other hand, Rasheed told a news channel that Jan’s name was presented “after directly taking permission from chairman sahab [Khan]”.

“I received Ayaz Amir’s name later and conveyed it to the speaker,” he said. “It [sharing of names] has happened with consultations; I have done nothing directly on my own; they were given from the party.”

The PTI has been in a disarray regarding names of the proposed caretaker chief ministers, especially after it had taken back its nominee, Nasir Saeed Khosa, for the post of the caretaker CM.

In a press conference later in the day, PTI chief Imran Khan defended PTI’s about-turn, saying, “We withdrew his name after it became controversial.”

“The important thing is not that the name was withdrawn, the important thing is to ensure that the elections are free and fair.”

On Wednesday, PTI withdrew the nomination of Nasir Saeed Khosa just two days after Rasheed had finally reached an agreement with Shehbaz Sharif to appoint him as the caretaker chief minister.

PTI had proposed Khosa’s name but retracted its decision citing the former top bureaucrat’s closeness with deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif. But Shehbaz Sharif refused to withdraw Khosa’s name, saying he had already forwarded a summary for his notification as caretaker CM to the Punjab governor. However, “disheartened” by the PTI’s attitude, Khosa excused himself from heading the caretaker setup. He regretted that by supporting, then retracting his name, the PTI had turned him into “a controversial figure in the media”.

Sources told Pakistan Today that Khosa had initially refused to withdraw his nomination after the PTI retracted from its decision, however Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed had pleaded him to recuse himself, saying that his (Rasheed’s) position had become awkward due to his party’s volte-face.

On Thursday, PTI proposed two nominees for the post—Hassan Askari and former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Nasir Durrani. However, Durrani too excused himself from the post.

Interestingly, PTI chief Imran Khan had also rejected Manzoor Afridi’s nomination for caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only hours before the deadline on Monday. His name was allegedly withdrawn for being an outcome of a deal between the chief minister and opposition leader in the KP Assembly.

Separately, the party on Thursday evening welcomed Farooq Bandial to its fold only to expel him a few hours later following backlash on social media directed at the new entrant’s criminal past.

Commenting on the expulsion of Bandial, Imran termed it “fortunate” that the people had raised their voices against [convicted rapist] Farooq Bandial’s inclusion in the PTI. “We came to know that he had been in the PML-N for years but it was when he came to [join] us that people spoke out,” he said. “This shows that PTI has a standard.”

Party leader Naeemul Haque had taken to Twitter to announce that Bandial had been expelled from the party “with immediate effect”.

Terming his entry into the party “unfortunate”, Haque had said: “We have no place for people with such record in our party.”




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