CHAKWAL - Four candidates of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who had filed their nomination papers for the PP-23 by-election, have pulled out of the contest in favour of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Col (retd) Sultan Surkhru.

The PPP candidates withdrew their nomination papers after holding a ‘successful talk’ with the PTI local leadership, sources said.

It will now be almost a neck and neck contest between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate Sharyar Awan and Col Surkhru of the PTI, who is also enjoying the support of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

The PTI held a big public rally last day, which set alarm bells ringing in the PML-N rank and Hamza Shahbaz reportedly summoned all PML-N parliamentarians to Lahore to take firsthand account of the ground situation.

According to sources, Hamza expressed his great concern over the differences between MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman and Adviser to Punjab Chief Minister Malik Saleem Iqbal.

Hamza urged the parliamentarians to set aside their differences and spread at every nook and corner of the constituency to pull maximum voters in favour of the PML-N candidate on April 18, the polling day.

The returning officer will display the final list of the candidates with their election symbols on March 27 as so far 16 candidates have filed their nomination papers.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Haroon Joya, a grade-18 officer, was appointed as DPO Chakwal after his predecessor Muneer Masood Marth, a grade 19 officer, proceeded for a course.

Joya was working as SP services training wing at Police Academy Sihala. Joya will assume charge of the duty on March 27.

Till then, SSP Malik Sikandar Hayat has been given additional charge of DPO Chakwal.