The Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) has finalise candidates for almost all National Assembly seats from Sahiwal division of Punjab, The Express Tribune has learnt.
While presiding over a meeting, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said that he has formed a committee – comprising Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Saud Majid and Mian Javed Latif – and tasked it with devising a strategy to counter any competition the party might face in Sahiwal division during election 2013.
Sahiwal division consists of three districts – Okara, Sahiwal and Pakpattan. In Sahiwal district, which has a total of four NA seats, the PML-N will likely face two candidates from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on two of the seats.
In Okara, which has five NA seats, the committee will devise plans to tackle Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Central Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo. The committee will also brainstorm on how to save two of the party’s candidates in Pakpattan – which has three NA seats – allegedly holding fake educational degrees.
Currently, PPP occupies all five NA seats from Okara, one of which is held by Manzoor Wattoo.
The PML-N has finalised a strategy to face Wattoo in the upcoming polls and is determined to dislodge him from the NA-146 seat, come what may. The party has finalised Rao Ajmal Hussain as its candidate for the seat.
For NA-143, the party has finalised its MPA from PP-189 Chaudhry Nadeem Abbas Rabira, while Rai Noor Kharal has been dropped for possessing a fake degree. For NA-144, the party is nominating Arif Chaudhry, while for NA-145, it has finalised the name of Syed Subtain Hussain Shah.
While NA-147 belongs to Wattoo’s hometown, his son Khurram Wattoo currently occupies the seat. The PML-N has finalised its MPA Mueen Wattoo for this seat.
The PML-N will likely face two PTI candidates in the forthcoming elections and is prepared to lose one seat to its rival party out of a total of four.
PML-N’s sitting MNA Pirzada Syed Imran Ahmed from NA-160 will contest his constituency while three other candidates are interested in contesting the NA-161 seat. The party will consider Chaudhry Ashraf as he has support of two sitting MPAs – Malik Jalaluddin Dhako and Arshad Jutt – from the party’s wing in this constituency. The party has marked NA-162, but will face tough competition from PTI’s candidate Rai Hassan Nawaz.
While the PML-N has nominated Chaudhry Munir Azher for NA-163, it is prepared to lose the seat to PTI’s candidate Rai Murtaza.
Although the PML-N currently occupies all three NA seats from Pakpattan, there are two major problems the party has to face here. Firstly, two sitting MNAs of the party are accused of holding fake degrees. Besides this, there are differences between PML-N MNA Mian Mansab Ali Dogar and unification bloc leader MPA Mian Atta Maneka.
Dogar holds NA-164, Muhammad Salman Mohsin Gilani holds NA-165 and Rana Zahid Hussain Khan holds NA-166.
According to party officials, the leadership insists on nominating Gilani and Khan despite the likelihood of them being disqualified over the fake degree issue. Dogar is a strong candidate for the seat but if Maneka pushes his nephew Farrukh Mumtaz to the front, then this seat will cause trouble for the party.
Maneka told The Express Tribune that the committee has to take important decisions about this district as Gilani and Khan cannot contest the forthcoming elections due to their fake degrees.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 10th, 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of the story had incorrectly stated that three candidates would be contesting the NA-160 seat. The error is regretted.