In yet another development that suggests deepening of cracks within Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ranks, party leader and former Sindh chief minister (CM) Liaqat Jatoi has levelled accusations of selling at least one Senate ticket for Rs350 million (Rs35 crores) to newcomer and wealthy construction contractor Saifullah Abro.
“He joined the party six months ago… on what grounds was he awarded a ticket [for the upper house of the parliament]?” Jatoi was heard as asking media persons during a brief presser on Tuesday.
According to earlier reports, the days leading to the election for the Senate are getting difficult for the ruling party owing to differences between its leaders.
Sindh chapter is facing a severe rift after the party leadership finalised Federal Minister Faisal Vawda and Abro for the Senate from the province, The News reported last week.
The party’s decision generated criticism from its key leaders from three zones of rural Sindh who wrote a letter to Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to show their anger and demand the party’s high command to take back tickets from Vawda and Abro.
Encouraged by the PTI’s recent decision to withdraw the party ticket awarded to business tycoon Abdul Qadir in Balochistan for the Senate election after opposition from the party’s provincial leadership, the Sindh leaders also initiated a campaign to pressurise the party’s parliamentary committee to review its decision of allocating tickets.
In a letter, the PTI’s office-bearers from three regions said that they were “extremely disappointed with the entire process” of the selection of party’s candidates for the Senate polls from the province.
The leaders who signed the letter included Liaqat Jatoi’s brother Sadaqat Ali Jatoi, Sukkur district President Mubeen Jatoi, Allah Bux Unnar and Raja Khan Jhakrani, former provincial secretary general Mehfooz Usrani, a former candidate from NA-214 Shaheed Benazirabad Gul Muhammad Rind, former provincial minister Agha Taimoor Khan Pathan, Papu Khan Chachar and other office-bearers.
Showing severe concerns over finalising Abro for the Senate on technocrat seat, the PTI leaders asked how the Senate ticket was given to a newcomer in the party.
They alleged that cases against Abro, who has still been working closely with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership and famed as an “ATM”, have been pending in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The PTI leaders from rural Sindh asked to review the allocation of the Senate tickets from Sindh and said that the decision will harm the party in the upcoming local government polls.
However, a senior PTI leader from Sindh was quoted as saying that awarding a ticket to Abro was the party’s strategy to stop its MPAs from selling their votes to the PPP’s candidates as the party was fearful that the ruling party in the province may buy at least 10 out of its 30 members in the provincial assembly.
“Abro is a billionaire construction contractor and he will not only stop the PTI MPAs from selling their votes but can also buy the votes of PPP to win on technocrat seats,” the party leader, who requested anonymity, said.
It is pertinent to note that on Monday, the nomination papers of Abro on technocrat seat were rejected by the election tribunal.