LONDON: A British Pakistani activist and businessman, who surrendered his British nationality five years ago to get Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s National Assembly ticket from a Lahore constituency, has been denied ticket by the party leadership.
Aatif Chaudhry surrendered his British nationality to stand in May 2013 election from NA-123 and obtained more than 40 thousand votes while standing against PML-N’s Malik Pervaiz. Aatif Chaudhry didn’t come back to London and continued to work locally on advice of Imran Khan and claims he was promised by Imran himself that he will get a National Assembly ticket.
He applied for NA-127 – the old NA-123 renamed as NA-127 after new delimitations – to stand on PTI’s ticket for next month’s general elections but he has been denied the ticket for which he blames “grouping” within the party. He said that a powerful group close with the PTI is working against interest of common workers.
He told The News that he had been working for PTI for 12 years but “the ticket has been given to Jamshed Iqbal Cheema”. He added: “Jamshed Iqbal Cheema has come from another constituency. He fought elections last time from another place. I have been working locally throughout and I deserve the ticket.”
On the weekend, a protest was held on Ilford Lane, east London, by supporters of Aatif Chaudhry. The protestors called on Imran Khan to review his decision and award ticket to Aatif Chaudhry. They said that denying ticket to a dedicated worker like Aatif Chaudhry will damage Imran Khan’s message that the PTI is party of fresh blood and fresh ideas.
Aatif Chaudhry, 39, was running a successful cars and real estate business in London but decided to surrender his British nationality after Imran Khan told him to do so. Aatif had joined PTI in 2007 in London and headed the party’s London chapter for four years. He headed many campaigns by the party and was considered close to Imran Khan.
He protested: “I left my British citizenship and moved to Pakistan. I have been working locally for more than 7 years. Its violation of the merit that I have been denied the ticket. I have given my blood to the party and I appeal to the party chairman to review his decision.
When contacted, a PTI spokesman said that all tickets have been issued on merit and after taking into consideration various factors. The spokesman said that allegations of groups favouring candidates are baseless.