With the day of the by-elections approaching – to five National Assembly (NA) and two Punjab Assembly (PA) seats – the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have reached another landmark agreement.
The by-elections are scheduled for February 25.
According to PML-N sources familiar with the ‘negotiations’, the parties have agreed to keep the seats that they had won in 2008 election. That means that the PML-N will keep one of the five National Assembly seats. The PPP, meanwhile, will keep two National Assembly seats. PML-F is expected to win the fifth seat.
Both provincial assembly seats are expected to be retained by the PML-N.
The PML-Q will not field a candidate in any of the constituencies, according to the party’s information secretary. The PTI has already decided to boycott the elections.
Four NA a PA seat were vacated after the incumbents joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). Two seats, one each in the NA and PA, were vacated after the incumbents died.
According to PML-N members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, NA-148 (Multan I) – vacated after Shah Mehmood Qureshi joined the PTI – will be retained by the PPP. Ali Musa Gilani, the prime minister’s son, has been nominated as the party’s candidate. The sources attribute the understanding between the two parties to why Nawaz or Shahbaz Sharif has not visited the constituency. A visit had been scheduled in the second week of February but was later cancelled. The PML-N candidate Abdul Ghaffar Dogar is only fulfilling a formality, he said.
PML-N’s Sheikh Tariq Rashid is expected to win the NA-149 (Multan II) seat vacated after Makhdoom Javed Hashmi joined the PTI.
The PML-N had earlier awarded the ticket to Rafique Rijwana but later changed its decision and gave Rashid the ticket for the National Assembly. Rijwana was given a Senate ticket.
NA-168 (Vehari II), vacated after the death of PPP’s Azeem Daultana, will most likely be won by his sister, Nitasha Daultana. Akbar Bhatti, a businessman, is the PML-N contestant but is not expected to win.
Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F)’s Makhdoom Murtaza Mehmood – the son of PML-F’s Punjab president Makhdoom Ahmad Mehmood – is expected to win in NA-195 (Raheem Yar Khan IV). The seat was vacated after Jahangir Tareen, who has joined the PTI, resigned.
Maulvi Tariq Chohan, an independent, is his running against Murtaza. Chohan had been expected to run with Makdhooms’ support but decided to contest the elections independently after Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Malik Ishaq’s release, sources said.
NA-140 (Kasur III) is the only seat where a real contest is expected. Vacated by Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali three candidates will contest the election. Two independent candidates, Dr Azeemuddin Lakhvi and Malik Rashid, and PPP’s Sardar Muhammad Sarwar Dogar will face off.
PML-N had awarded Lakhvi a ticket but Nawaz Sharif changed his mind and awarded the ticket to Malik Rashid.
Out of the two PA seats, PP-44 (Minawali), vacated after the death of Aamir Hayat Khan Rokhri, will be retained by the PML-N. The party’s candidate is Aamir Rokhri’s son Adil Abdullah Khan Rokhri.
Three candidates – PML-N’s Malik Azam, PPP’s Malik Sameen Khan and Malik Amanat, an independent – will contest the election from PP-18 (Attock). Tough competition is anticipated between Azam and Amanat, in which Azam is expected to come out on top.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2012.
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