Withdrawal of nomination: PTI men allege pressure, Hassaan denies

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Politics on Monday, September 14, 2015

LAHORE: As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Punjab Organiser Chaudhry Sarwar has issued show-cause notices to the two UC-107 candidates for withdrawing nominations without party permission, the beneficiary of the whole episode, PML-N’s potential hopeful for Lahore mayor slot Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan denies coercion.

The PTI had alleged arm-twisting of its local government poll candidates in UC-107 contesting against Mr Hassaan and a brother of chief minister’s adviser Jaffar Hussain. The PTI candidates say they are going to file a writ petition in the Lahore High Court on Monday (today) against their rivals.

Through the party notices the two PTI men -- Nawaz Chaudhry and Rana Asghar -- have been asked to explain their position within three days. The party’s Discipline and Action Committee has also been asked by Mr Sarwar to probe into the matter and report within two days.

Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan has, however, an altogether different story to tell, without denying the sequence of events, including his visit to vice-chairman candidate Rana Asghar’s house and his presence at the MNA’s residence before Chaudhry Nawaz reached there.

Denying use of any pressure tactics, Mr Hassaan told Dawn, “Rana Asghar welcomed me with garlands outside his house and affirmed he would not be contesting against me”. He said the PTI candidate considered him a better candidate for the union council.

Mr Hassan claimed the PTI had no standing in the UC-107.

“The UC-107 is a hub of PML-N votes,” he said, adding that the PTI had tried to field a joint candidate in collaboration with Jamaat-i-Islami against him, but he (Majeed Ghauri) simply did not submit nomination papers.

Mr Hassaan said the two PTI candidates had withdrawn nomination papers simply on his request and he did not want to embarrass them by giving statements against them, while they were trying to “appease” their party leadership.

In order to strengthen his argument, Mr Hassaan said the returning officer had personally asked Rana Asghar whether he was withdrawing his nomination papers voluntarily or under coercion. He claimed Mr Asghar admitted there was no pressure involved and re-wrote his withdrawal papers before the RO.

Explaining his presence at Mehr Ishtiaq’s residence when PTI chairman candidate Chaudhry Nawaz arrived there, Mr Hassaan said he was there just to go to the Town Hall which was adjacent to the MNA’s residence.

When contacted, PTI vice-chairman candidate Rana Asghar insisted he was pressurised to sign the withdrawal papers. “What else could I do but signing the papers when PML-N leaders and plainclothesmen were sitting in my house taking my family hostage,” he asked.

He said PML-N men led by advisor to chief minister Chaudhry Baqir Hussain, brother of Jaffar Hussain, arrived at his house early on Saturday. “They offered me monetary incentives as well as lucrative postings,” he said, and added that upon his refusal the plainclothesmen threatened him and his family.

He, however, admitted that he had met Mr Hassaan outside his residence and garlanded him because “we are residents of the same locality”.

He said that he would be filing a writ petition in the LHC on Monday.

To a question, Mr Asghar said he did try to contact Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed but the plainclothesmen snatched his cell phone.

PHOTO ROW: Electronic media on Sunday flashed pictures showing top police officials allegedly extracting “a commitment on oath” from the PTI candidates.

However, the PML-N claimed it was an old picture taken at a Panchayat to settle a murder dispute.

Meanwhile, CIA police chief Umer Virk said the pictures shown on the media were old and were taken at a re-conciliatory meeting in connection with a murder case.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah also said the pictures were taken at a Panchayat (local jury) and added that the government would take legal action against the PTI for leveling the allegation. He claimed the PTI would be facing a humiliating defeat in the upcoming local government elections.

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