The recommendation of the RULING party MNA Raja Riaz to the leadership to return Jahangir Khan Tareen to lead the upcoming Senate elections against the opposition PML-N in Punjab has raised eyebrows within Tehreek-i-Insaf Tareen in Pakistan (PTI).
However, Mr. Riaz seems to be not a lonely but a symbolic voice of a minority segment in the ruling party that claims that the PML-N has a number of “investors” who will play a major role in buying MPA loyalties to manoeuvre the elections to the Senate. The PML-tough N’s position of not approving the request for an open vote shows its intentions.
Though interacting with some PTI officials, most party leaders are opposed to the notion of Mr. Tareen’s return to the party before the allegations of money laundering and sugar theft levelled in the Federal Investigative Agency’s investigation report are cleaned up.
“For over two decades, all PTI ranks led by Imran Khan have been making a hue and cry that only honesty, transparency and fair play will be acceptable in the party,” said a senior party leader.
Some leaders think he may play a crucial role in ensuring PTI victory in Senate polls in Punjab
Although most party leaders and future Senate election candidates conclude that Mr. Riaz’s advice about Mr. Tareen was his own viewpoint and had little to do with the party’s current Senate election discussions, Mr. Riaz believes that Prime Minister Khan accepted his point of view and decided that the party may need its “experienced team” to sail effectively through the Se Se.
Saying that most party men recognise the keen political insight and talents of Mr. Tareen, Mr. Riaz maintains, “the PTI needs a sharp party organiser who can defeat the evil designs of many PML-N investors, who can manoeuvre the Punjab Senate polls.”
Mr Tareen allegedly contacted Mr Riaz by telephone on Thursday to thank him for mentioning him at the ruling party’s parliamentary party conference.
After being identified in the sugar scandal, the former secretary general of the PTI became estranged from party chief Imran Khan and left for London. After spending five months in London in November of last year, he returned to Pakistan.
The suggestion of Mr. Riaz about Mr. Tareen also reinforced a party debate about the Senate elections as he further proposed that Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, former Health Minister Amir Kayani and Ejaz Chaudhry be entrusted with the task of using their leverage on the MPAs for whom they campaigned and won party tickets.
In the present difficult times, only these benefactors of MPAs in Punjab can govern them to obey party orders,” Mr. Riaz told Imran Khan about his mind.”
Mr. Riaz has opened a debate on the timely decision of the party on candidates, as the candidates and plans for the Senate elections are just two weeks in hand and dissatisfied and opposing voices have already arisen from Punjab.
A reasonably large number of dissatisfied MPAs in the province, who are unhappy about the results of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, have come on record to insist that at least one of them be chosen for the party’s Senate election ticket or they will dent the party’s efforts in the polls either by not polling their all essential votes or by resigning from their Punjab Assembly membership
The party ranks, particularly those who are personally involved in the polls, want a vigorous debate and selection of candidates as soon as possible, as things are opening up and sunshine is descending on the Senate elections. A party leader said, “If Senate elections are held in the first week of March, then everything, including the selection of party candidates, must be finalised by Feb 15, which is round the corner.”
Another party leader came up with the view that Imran Khan knew the “ins and outs” and strengths and shortcomings of any party leader and could determine well on his own who should be fielded to take forward the interest of the party in the Senate polls.
Since each party member would need to bag at least 47 votes in order to be elected from Punjab to the upper house, no party leader will have the guts to look for any individual move and defy the decision of party leadership, a party leader and potential candidate said.
Mr. Riaz explained that, as an MNA, he is not a nominee for the Senate race. Names of PM Accountability Special Assistant Shahzad Akbar, SAPM Zulfi Bukhari, Party Chief Organizer Saifullah Niazi, Ejaz Chaudhry, a few other PM Special Assistants and women’s party leaders such as Dr Zarqa Soharwardi and Tanzeela Imran are making rounds in the media as candidates for the Sen Party ticket
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Both the names of the candidates are media gossip. No list is definitive before the list is finalised by Prime Minister Imran Khan and made public by asking prospective candidates to file their nomination papers,’ Mr. Niazi said. He, however, declined to comment about the return of Mr Tareen to the party, saying, “I don’t want to talk about the internal affairs of the party.”