By-poll in NA-157: PTI workers protest candidature of Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s daughter

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers held a protest demonstration in Multan on Friday against the party’s vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi for giving a party ticket to his daughter Meher Bano Qureshi as a candidate for the by-election in NA-157.

The constituency was vacated by his son, Zain Qureshi, who contested in Punjab Assembly’s PP-217 as MPA and defeated the PML-N’s candidate Salman Naeem in the recently held by-election.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has released the schedule for the by-poll in NA-157 Multan, PP-139 Sheikhupura and PP-241 Bahawalnagar to be held on Sept 11 while Aug 5 was announced as the last date for submitting the nomination forms.

More than 18 candidates, including Meher Bano Qureshi, former prime minister and Senator Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son Syed Ali Musa Gilani, Engineer Waseem Abbas and Saifur Rahman Qureshi, have submitted their nomination papers for the by-poll in the NA 157.

The constituency is considered a stronghold and home seat of Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Musa Gilani also won the seat in the 2012 by-election.

A large number of PTI workers led by the party’s local leader Engineer Waseem Abbas lodged a protest outside the ECP office in Multan against Mr Qureshi and his family for promoting dynastic politics in the party. The workers were chanting slogans and carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against Mr Qureshi and his family. They said Shah Mehmood Qureshi had fielded his son Zain in PP-217 Multan and now he had given the ticket to his daughter.

“Did Mr Qureshi not see any other candidate to contest the by-election,” they questioned.

PTI local leader Waseem Abbas said the PTI was launched under a slogan to challenge dynastic politics and the workers would not allow turning the party into a conventional and dynastic party.

He said he had requested the party chairman Imran Khan to give him a ticket to contest the by-election for NA-157.

“I will contest the election as an independent candidate if I don’t get a party ticket,” he declared.

About her candidature, Meher Bano Qureshi tweeted on Friday, “Since announcing my candidacy for by-election in #NA157, I have come across so many spreading fake news, doctored images and posters and attributing false statements to me. I wonder if it would have been different had I been a man. Anyhow, happy to work hard and prove myself”.

In an audio statement, shared on her twitter account, she argued that “the PTI and my father selected me (for the by-election), against the traditions of my family, to keep the narrative of Imran Khan alive. I am not just a voter of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf but I have remained connected with the party and worked along its social media team since 2018”.

A twitter user, criticising her candidature, said, “As a staunch PTI supporter, I really respect and admire your dad SMQ. But I am totally against dynastic politics.”

Ms Qureshi replying to the user said “I respect your opinion but I was selected by my halqa (constituency) to fight this election. I wasn’t given a party position or leadership. This isn’t a reserved seat. I have to fight for it. This is a very tough election but I will fight to keep my Kaptaan’s vision alive”.

Pro-PTI analysts and party supporters criticised Imran Khan’s decision of allotting a ticket to Meher Bano and called it hypocrisy. Some of them tweeted that they were clueless as to why Mr Khan, who has been raising a voice against dynastic politics in Pakistan, would give a ticket to Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s daughter. They also criticised Meher Bano Qureshi for taking advantage of her father’s position in the party.

“Workers are only for Zindabad Murdabad. Tickets are for baap, baita and baiti (father, son and daughter),” a twitter user commented. Others wondered why three seats in an area (Multan) would be occupied by the members of the same family.

On Thursday night, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, addressing a press conference to introduce his daughter’s candidature, said the PTI had decided to field Meher Bano Qureshi for the NA-157 by-poll.

“There are rules for all political parties to field 5pc women.” When asked if he was promoting dynastic politics, he claimed the party had sought opinion from the party workers in NA-157 who supported her.

In 2018 general election, PTI Zain Qureshi had won the NA-157 by securing more than 77,000 votes and his opponent, the PPP’s Ali Musa Gilani, had got around 70,000 votes.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022