NA-121: Who is PTI defector Waseem Qadir?

PTI-backed independent candidate Waseem Qadir (right) with PML-N leaders in Lahore, on February 11, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — PML-N
PTI-backed independent candidate Waseem Qadir (right) with PML-N leaders in Lahore, on February 11, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — PML-N

Waseem Qadir, who won the February 8 general elections from the National Assembly’s NA-121 constituency as a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed independent candidate in Lahore, has announced joining the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

“I am Waseem Qadir. I was PTI’s Lahore secretary-general. I have returned to my home,” the ex-PTI leader, the first elected member to desert the party post-elections, said.

Waseem joined the PTI in December 2018, soon after the party rose to power. He is the son of former PPP MPA late Chaudhry Ghulam Qadir. Before joining the PTI, he served as PML-N MPA from Lahore as well as deputy mayor of Ravi Town. He had been affiliated with the PML-N for 11 years.

This is noteworthy that PTI wasn’t the 60-year-old politician’s second party. Before joining PML-N a decade ago, Waseem’s loyalties were with the PPP on whose ticket his father Chaudhry Ghulam Qadir contested the 1988 and later the 2002 elections.

Chaudhry Ghulam, Waseem’s father, combated former dictator Ziaul Haq’s martial law for 11 years and in 1988 general elections, Benazir Bhutto, the then chairperson of the PPP awarded him the party ticket and he was fielded from then PP-129 where he emerged victorious, bagging around 25,000 votes while defeating the IJI candidate Nisar Ahmed. In that period, Waseem also actively participated in the campaign of his father and in later years, he got settled in Norway. However, his loyalties remained with the PPP and his father Ghulam was once again fielded by the PPP, for a National Assembly seat in 2002 general elections but he lost to PML-N’s Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.

By 2007, Waseem had developed a good relationship with the PML-N leadership and in February 2008 general elections, Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif awarded him a ticket from PP-144, the seat that fell under then NA-123 from where Makhdoom Javed Hashmi was contesting. Waseem won the seat comfortably and served as MPA for five years.

In the 2013 general elections, he was denied the ticket and Bau Akhter was fielded from the seat that Waseem won in 2008. He served as chairman of Mines and Minerals Department Punjab for some time and after the 2015 Local Government elections, he was made Ravi Town deputy mayor by the party.

Waseem quit the PML-N after he had a heated war of words with the then Punjab opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz in Model Town over the issue related to issuance of tickets to councilors in LG by-polls.

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