- PTI’s Shehryar Afridi, Ibrahim Khan managed to win despite resistance within the party
ISLAMABAD: The July 25 polls were full of surprises and there are many untold stories about how candidates, written off either by their own parties or by mainstream media, had pulled surprise victories leaving all and sundry in bewilderment.
The tale of two young lawmakers-elect from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is intriguing as they managed to win against all odds, even after opposition from within their own parties.
SHEHRYAR KHAN AFRIDI:
PTI MNA-elect Shehryar Khan Afridi won the General Election 2018 from NA-32 Kohat even after his own party’s parliamentary board had unanimously declared him an underdog against his rival candidate from Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Maulana Gauhar Mohammad Bangash, and former textiles minister Abbas Khan Afridi of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Sources in the PTI confirmed Pakistan Today that the party’s parliamentary board was unanimous in its verdict that Shehryar Afridi stood no chance against his opponents and had advised party Chairman Imran Khan to award ticket to former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governor Lt Gen (r) Iftikhar Hussain.
However, the sources said that Imran challenged their judgment and directed the parliamentary board members to open the report of a recent survey conducted in NA-32.
The PTI chief was informed that the survey report was also against Shehryar Afridi. Among those who insisted to award ticket to someone other than Shehryar Afridi were former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak, former KP education minister Atif Khan, former KP information minister Shah Farman and others.
They said that Imran Khan did not agree to the advice of parliamentary board members and asked to open the survey report. “When the survey report was opened, a shocking truth exposed the bias of parliamentary board members as the survey put Shehryar Afridi as the top-most popular politician in Kohat with a rating of 52 per cent, followed by Maulana Gauhar Bangash who stood at 32 per cent,” a source in the PTI said.
He added that the PTI chairman immediately directed the board to award ticket to Shehryar Afridi but the damage had already been done as only 24 days were left for elections when the ticket was awarded to Afridi.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Shehryar Afridi confirmed the account of PTI sources saying that since he was already late in canvassing and launched his campaign in a ferocious manner.
“I conducted 300 public meetings in 24 days. I used to sleep only in my car for two or three hours while travelling. Since my constituency is the largest one in the entire province, I had to make long travels to attend public meetings. I addressed rallies as late as 3 am and as early as 8 am. I was on the roads all the time,” said Afridi.
The MNA-elect said that not only he was pitted against former minister Abbas Afridi who had launched development projects of Rs130 billion, he also had to face resistance from MMA candidate. But due to the support from the party chairman, he overcame all barriers.
Afridi bagged around 83,000 votes while his closest opponent Gauhar Bangash could manage only 47,000 votes. PML-N’s Abbasi Afridi could muster 44,000 votes.
“I dedicate this overwhelming triumph to Imran Khan who held a deep probe to foil all conspiracies against the people of Kohat. It is a win of people,” said the PTI leader.
Ibrahim Khan is another PTI leader who was awarded a party ticket after a long controversy as the party’s Vice Chairman Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi was lobbying to get the ticket awarded to former MNA Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan.
By then, NA-158 had become the most sought-after constituency of the country where the former prime minister and PPP leader Yousaf Raza Gilani and former water minister Javed Ali Shah were up against Ibrahim Khan, PTI’s deputy secretary-general.
Ibrahim Khan, who obtained an MBA degree in Industrial Management from California University, USA, and lived and worked there for 18 years, was being considered a strong candidate as he was the sole candidate in entire Multan district who was elected as an independent MPA from PP-203 Multan in 2002.
PTI sources said that though Ibrahim Khan is joint secretary of the party and had been associated with the party since 2007, Qureshi, however, was targeting him due to Ibrahim Khan’s close association with party’s top leader Jahangir Khan Tareen.
Sources said that this delay did a huge damage to Ibrahim Khan who could not even commence his electoral campaign due to the ticket controversy. However, later the ticket was awarded to Ibrahim Khan but the damage had been done already.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Ibrahim Khan said that the major challenges for him were not the political heavyweights but the amount of money used by them to defeat him.
“I was up against mafia groups who have been fooling the people of my area for past many decades. For Yousaf Raza Gilani, it was a matter of life and death since the PPP leader had faced stiff resistance in his own constituency – NA-154 Multan – which had compelled him to move towards Shujaabad. On the other hand, I had to face former minister Javed Ali Shah who had launched several development projects just before elections to again fool the poor masses,” the PTI leader said.
He alleged that Gilani had used the money to win over the poor voters through fake Benazir Income Support Programme Cards (BISP) and mobile phones, but both his opponents could not buy loyalties of voters.
Despite all this, Ibrahim Khan won over 83,000 votes while Yousaf Raza Gilani could manage 73,000 and Javed Ali Shah got 72,000 votes.