LAHORE: Senior PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar and Shahbaz Gill have expressed their confidence in party chief Imran Khan despite not being awarded party tickets for contesting the Punjab elections.
For the elections, which the top court had ordered to be held on May 14, the PTI finalised a list of 297 candidates earlier this week. PTI Chairman Imran Khan had decided to interview all party candidates in person to uphold merit in awarding party tickets.
He had previously stated that the team entrusted with the task in 2018 was negligent in performing its duties, therefore, the ex-premier held one-on-one interviews with all candidates to select nominees from April 6 to April 18.
According to the list of candidates published on the PTI’s website, Raja Basharat, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, Usmar Dar, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Hashim Dogar, Zain Qureshi and Usman Buzdar have been awarded party tickets.
However, several senior party leaders were excluded from contesting the polls in Punjab.
Commenting on the development today, Azhar — former federal energy minister — said: A few days ago, Khan sahab told me that he had thought at length and that the country’s biggest challenge was on the economic front, therefore, I was needed in the Centre.
“The next day I withdrew my nomination papers from all the provincial constituencies,” he said.
Gill, meanwhile, said that several senior party leaders, including Fawad and Azhar, had submitted their nomination papers for the polls in Punjab.
“Chairman Imran Khan has decided not to give tickets to all of us,” he said. “Khan sahab’s decision is accepted wholeheartedly.”
He said that he was not with the PTI chief for party tickets or for any position, but rather for the latter’s ideology.
Meanwhile, Fawad appeared to be crestfallen about not being awarded a party ticket for contesting the polls.
Speaking to ARY News’ Kashif Abbasi on Thursday night, the ex-information minister said that he and other senior leaders did not feel good when they were not given a party ticket.
“Obviously, it didn’t feel good. We should have received it. But if Khan sahab says no, then it means no,” he said with a chuckle.
Abbasi then asked whether Buzdar, the former chief minister of the Punjab, had been awarded a ticket.
“Buzdar sahab has gotten it. Parvez Elahi sahab has gotten it,” he said. He went on to say that Gill had not been given a ticket either.
When asked whether Buzdar could become the chief minister again, Fawad said: “I think he (Buzdar) can […] he is the former chief minister so why not?”
Fawad further said he couldn’t comment on the matter because such decisions were solely the prerogative of the PTI chief. “I can’t say it on TV and I can’t say it otherwise,” he maintained. “Khan sahab knows better.”
Commenting on why the chief ministerial candidates of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were not yet decided, Fawad said this decision was above his pay grade. “This work is done on Imran Khan’s level. Only he decides such things.”
When asked if he wanted to become the Punjab chief minister, Fawad said that real change can be enacted to improve the lives of the people once someone becomes the provincial chief executive.
He said that Qureshi and Azhar also desire becoming the chief minister. “Yes, obviously Shah Mahmood wanted to be [chief minister],” Fawad said. “Even Azhar, of course, why not.”