LAHORE: Former federal minister of Commerce and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Humayun Akhtar Khan is gunning to become his party’s candidate for the upcoming by-elections in the NA-131 constituency.
The NA-131 Lahore seat had been won by Prime Minister Imran Khan, who beat Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Khawaja Saad Rafique by a few hundred votes. However, the PM has vacated the seat, choosing to retain the one from his hometown of Mianwali.
The PML-N has already fielded Khawaja Saad Rafique for the constituency once again, while the PTI has yet to name a final candidate for the slot.
Humayun Akhtar, who only recently joined the PTI ahead of general elections, is emerging as a strong contender, most likely to be given the ticket ahead of party stalwart Waleed Iqbal.
At a recent event at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Humayun Akhtar hinted that he had been all but selected by the party to take a crack at Imran Khan’s seat in Lahore. However, there was no further elaboration.
At the same event, the Executive Director of Akhtar’s organisation the ‘Institute for Policy Reform’ said that “very soon we will see Akhtar once again entering the national assembly as the chosen candidate of the party and the people” while a confident looking Humayun Akhtar nodded in acknowledgment.
Akhtar has previously won elections from the area which now makes up the NA-131 constituency and has some support there. If he is selected to run in NA 131 against Khawaja Saad Rafique, it will once again be a snub to Waleed Iqbal, who was running Imran Khan’s election campaign in the constituency. Iqbal has had differences with the PTI before, especially regarding ticket allotment.
However, it was being felt in some party quarters that Iqbal was not handling the campaign properly and it was Akhtar’s late entry into the PTI that had boosted Imran Khan’s campaign and helped him clinch the election with a very thin margin.
Both Humayun Akhtar and Waleed Iqbal have submitted their initial papers for the by-elections, but are awaiting official party directives. The matter in the constituency is made just a little more complicated by PTI’s losing candidate from Narowal, Abrarul Haq, who is also lobbying for the constituency and has even put up posters in different areas presenting himself as a possible candidate.