PM picks new faces for top slots in Chakwal district council

Malik Mohammad Tariq Awan, the nominated chairman of District Council Chakwal.
Malik Mohammad Tariq Awan, the nominated chairman of District Council Chakwal.

CHAKWAL: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has picked new names from the list of recommendations made by a committee of the local PML-N chapter for the slots of chairman and vice chairman of the District Council Chakwal.

Chairman of the Union Council (UC) Dhulli in Talagag tehsil, Malik Mohammad Tariq Awan was chosen as chairman and chairman of UC Dhudial in Chakwal tehsil, Khurshid Baig was chosen vice chairman.

The nominated men had the backing of Malik Saleem Iqbal, who is an advisor to the Punjab chief minister and of Sardar Ghulam Abbas, who has recently joined the party.

A few local leaders intend to meet PM to express their concern over nominations

And though the prime minister’s choice is being generally hailed in the party as “rational”, some felt shocked that candidates recommended by three local PML-N parliamentarians were ignored.

For quite some time now, differences and groupings have been visible in the Chakwal PML-N.

MNA Tahir Iqbal, MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman and MPA Zulifqar Ali Khan represent one group in the party while Malik Saleem Iqbal, Sardar Ghulam Abbas and MPA Malik Zahoor Anwar Awan make up another.

On the sidelines stand MPA Malik Tanvir Aslam Awan, MPA Mehvish Sultana, MPA Chaudhry Liaquat Ali, his wife MNA Iffat Liaquat, and Senator retired Lt-Gen Abdul Qayyum as neutral.

Tahir Iqbal, Sardar Mumtaz Tamman and Zulifqar Ali met the PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz on Wednesday and conveyed their reservations about the party’s decision.

They later told Dawn that they sought a meeting with the prime minister. “We have our reservations about the decision and have requested for its revision”, Mr. Iqbal said, adding that they would discuss the issue with prime minister.

“We stand by the party as we always have”, said Chaudhry Haider Sultan the son of MPA Chaudhry Liaquat Ali Khan.

Chaudhry Khurshid Baig, the nominated vice chairman of District Council Chakwal.
Chaudhry Khurshid Baig, the nominated vice chairman of District Council Chakwal.

MNA Tahir Iqbal, with the support of MNA Sardar Mumtaz Khan Tamman and MPA Zulifqar Ali Khan, fielded his younger brother Naeem Asghar for the slot of district council chairman; while Malik Aslam Awan, father of the Punjab Minister Malik Tanvir Aslam, also vied for the district council chairmanship.

Malik Saleem Iqbal, advisor to the chief minister, MPA Malik Zahoor Anwar Awan and Sardar Ghulam Abbas, who had been archrivals of the PML-N in Chakwal in their political careers before their recent change of heart, fielded Malik Mohammad Tariq Awan and Chaudhry Khurshid Baig as their candidates for the top posts.

The committee formed by the PML-N leadership to recommend the most suitable candidates for the positions met local MPs last Friday and took their opinions. At a party meeting on Tuesday, chaired by the prime minister, the nominations of Malik Tariq Awan and Khurshid Baig were approved.

“It is a rational decision,” commented a senior local PML-N leader. “Instead of displaying nepotism, the party leadership decided to bring forth new faces. I do not understand why Malik Aslam Awan and Naeem Asghar presented themselves as candidates when the former’s son is a provincial minister and the latter’s brother is an MNA.”

Talking to Dawn Malik Saleem Iqbal said that the decision would bolster the moral of the workers. “Tariq Awan is a true and dedicated worker of the party. His nomination would be accepted by all local leaders”, he added.

Meanwhile, Malik Tariq Awan and Khurshid Baig have said they are resolved to work for the betterment of the party and the district. “I have no differences with Sardar Mumtaz Tamman or anyone else. It is our duty to work for the betterment of the party and the people of Chakwal,” said Mr. Tariq.

In his May 2013 election campaign, Mian Nawaz Sharif had promised the people of Talagang that if voted into power, he would upgrade Talagang to district level. But the promise has remained unfulfilled. Maybe giving the slot of chairman district council to Talagang mitigate the resentment of the people of Talagang.

The PML-N has 84 members in the 95-member district council. Differences in the party and the lethargy of its local MPs cost the PML-N the municipalities of Talagang and Lawa in the local bodies elections which went to the PML-Q and Bhoun to PTI.

The PML-N also lost the municipality of Kallar Kahar and 22 UCs to the Sardar Ghulam Abbas Group but this loss turned into a huge gain when Sardar Abbas joined the party.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2016