• Tue. Jan 31st, 2023

Differences over Karachi’s mayoral candidacy divide PTI leaders

PTI Sindh President Syed Ali Haider Zaidi addressing a press conference at Insaf House. — APP/File
PTI Sindh President Syed Ali Haider Zaidi addressing a press conference at Insaf House. — APP/File

Over the nomination of mayoral candidacy for Karachi, serious differences have emerged among Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Sindh chapter leaders after PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi sent a letter to the party’s central parliamentary board for selecting a candidate from between Muhammad Ashraf Jabbar Qureshi, and Khurram Sher Zaman.

Zaman is currently the parliamentary party leader in the Sindh Assembly, while Qureshi is considered one of the founding members of the PTI. The latter, however, would not agree to work with Zaman if his name was not accepted by the party for the mayorship of Karachi.

On December 13, Zaidi in his letter also informed PTI Chairman Imran Khan that senior member Firdous Shamim Naqvi was withdrawing his nomination for the mayor’s candidature. Now the party has two hopefuls in the race —Qureshi and Zaman, the letter reads.

Zaidi stated: “If the party intends to look for more candidates, we will have to wait till the election to select one from the reserve seats of labour, women, minorities or youth.” The local body elections, after being delayed thrice, are now scheduled to be held on January 15, 2023.

He requested the party parliamentary board to decide at the earliest so that the party could announce the final candidate and relaunch its electoral campaign for the LG polls. 

For the last two months, the party had been organising rallies and public gatherings in Karachi focusing on issues related to national-level politics. However, the party is yet to launch its election campaign for the local bodies’ elections.

Talking about the issue, Zaman told The News that the party had not announced the final candidate for the mayorship of Karachi. However, it is expected that the party would finalise the name in the next two days.

He said three names – his as well as those of Naqvi and Muhammad Ashraf Jabbar Qureshi — were sent to the central parliamentary board of the party. “The party would decide the final name of the candidate, and what the party decides, I would happily accept it.”

Responding to a question, Zaman said he had been highlighting the issues being faced by the people of Karachi, and if he was elected mayor of Karachi, he would work with other political parties to resolve the problems.

He, however, said he was also ready to support Qureshi. “We are party colleagues. We have to work for winning the mayorship of Karachi. This is not right to fight within the party. All the differences can be settled after winning the LG polls,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Qureshi told The News that some people within the PTI wished to become prime minister instead Imran Khan, and they wanted to enjoy high positions being associated with the PTI. “One thing I want to make clear; if my name was dropped, the party would suffer huge losses in the upcoming local bodies elections in Karachi,” he said.

Qureshi said a group of opportunists had been imposed on the PTI, and they wanted to distract the party from the right path and were taking advantage of Khan’s engagement in national politics. If Zaman’s name was finalised for the mayorship, the rival parties would use his name against the PTI by saying that he was not a local resident of Karachi.

He said the PTI would also lose its vote bank in Urdu-speaking neighbourhoods. “I was assured by PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi that the party would nominate me as mayoral candidate. This is why I accepted the offer and started the campaign. 

Now it’s beyond understanding why Zaman is so interested in becoming a mayoral candidate.” He said: “I will absolutely not support any electioneering of the PTI in the upcoming local polls if my candidacy for the mayor of Karachi is not accepted.”

Originally published in

The News

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