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PPP Sumera Gull to contest election opposite Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed

28 June, 2018

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RAWALPINDI: PPP worker Sumera Gull is the only woman contesting the NA-62 constituency, where no other party has fielded a female candidate. The PPP issued its list of candidates across the country on Wednesday, including Rawalpindi’s seven National Assembly seats; five Punjab Assembly constituencies are still pending.

Ms Gull, the president of the PPP district women’s wing, will run against Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed and PML-N’s Daniyal Chaudhry.

In 1997, the PPP fielded Naheed Khan, a close aide to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, against Sheikh Rashid, then a PML-N candidate.
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PPP city chapter spokesperson Nasir Mir told Dawn the PPP had two options in NA-62: Ms Gull, an old party worker, and Nadeem Sheikh, a member of the trader’s association. He said the decision was made according to the demands of the city’s old party workers.

Mr Mir said the party surveyed the constituency, and workers demanded that they field a candidate from amongst the workers instead of bringing in newcomers.

However, a senior party leader claimed the PPP gave Ms Gull the ticket because of her connections to local baradaris, such as people from Murree who had settled in Rawalpindi.

He added that former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPA Arif Abbasi was Ms Gull’s cousin.

Political analysts said the PPP had had a difficult time finding suitable candidates in Punjab, and decided to promote party workers in the absence of electables.

In NA-60, the PPP gave newcomer Mukhtar Abbas a ticket. Mr Abbas is the nephew of Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen President Allama Nasir Abbas. He will run against Sheikh Rashid and PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi.

PPP city president Babar Jadoon and vice president Chaudhry Iftikhar are contesting Punjab Assembly seats instead, he said.

In the cantonment areas’ constituency – NA-61 – PPP has fielded Haji Gulzar Awan. This was traditionally the constituency of Zamarud Khan, who refused to contest the elections this year. He previously won the seat in 2002, and lost in 2008 and 2013.

Against estranged PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in NA-59, the PPP has nominated Kamran Aslam Chaudhry and Mirza Pervaiz Akhter Kiani in PP-10.

The PPP has yet to finalise its candidate for NA-63, while former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf will contest NA-58 (Gujar Khan) and his son Khurram Pervaiz Ashraf will contest a Punjab Assembly seat.

With the PPP’s announcement of candidates for NA-52, NA-53 and NA-54, the area is set for the capital’s National Assembly seats.

On Wednesday, the party announced three new contestants for the capital, all of whom come from prominent political families.

In NA-52, the PPP is fielding Afzal Khokar, uncle of Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar, who was the naib nazim of the Rawalpindi district in the local government system introduced by Gen Pervez Musharraf.

He initially has some trouble filing his nomination papers, as the State Bank reported outstanding bank loans, which he then paid.

Mr Khokar will face former MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry from the PML-N, and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Raja Khurrum Nawaz, former chairman of the Tumair union council near Simli Dam. Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Bilal Faisal has received a ticket from the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), the alliance of religious parties.

The most significant race in the capital is expected in NA-53, where former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is running against PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

These two candidates have overshadowed the arrival of PPP’s Syed Sibtul Haider, the brother of former Senate chairman Syed Nayyar Bukhari.

The third seat in the capital, NA-54, will be contested by PPP’s Raja Imran Ashraf, the younger brother of former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. He too is expected to face tough competition from the PML-N and PTI, as well as the MMA, as all three candidates have been voted to the National Assembly from this area.

PTI’s Asad Umar, PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel and MMA’s Mian Mohammad Aslam – the central naib emir of Jamaat-i-Islami who is contesting from NA-53 and NA-54 – will be running against Mr Ashraf.

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