Constituency profile: The battle for ‘Mini Raiwind’

Published: April 21, 2013
PML-N’s development projects may swing the vote in their favour.

PML-N’s development projects may swing the vote in their favour.

ISLAMABAD: The political manoeuvrings within two National Assembly seats in Rawalpindi – NA 55 and NA 56 – are as complex, as dramatic, as the history of Rawalpindi itself. This garrison city has witnessed the killings of three prime ministers: Liaquat Ali Khan was gunned down in 1951 at Liaquat Bagh, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007 during an election rally, and her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979 by Gen Zia’s military regime.  

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership considers Rawalpindi a ‘mini Raiwind’ and it is seemingly confident in its ability to retain its hold. However, with a grand political alliance between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rashid Ahmad now in play, the PML-N may not have such an easy time.

In the past the PML-N has, indeed, been decisively victorious in the region. In 2008, its NA-56 candidate, Muhammad Hanif Abbasi, won by a huge margin (for the second time), and Rashid lost NA 55 to PML-N candidates Makhdoom Javed Hashmi in 2008 and Malik Shakeel Awan in the February 2010 by-elections.

Now, the PTI chief and Sheikh Rashid, have agreed on a seat adjustment formula to give a tough time to PML-N. According to the formula, Sheikh Rashid will support Imran on NA 56, while Imran will support the Awami Muslim League chief on NA 55.

Imran’s biggest challenger for the seat is Abbasi, while Rashid will once again face Awan.

Abbasi has close contacts with the business community of Rawalpindi. However, he is currently facing serious charges in different courts for his alleged involvement in the ephedrine scam. Awan, on the other hand, has started a campaign which has caused rifts amongst party workers.

Sheikh Rashid is perhaps the most well-known politician of Bhabra Bazaar. After facing three defeats at the hands of the PML-N in a city where he had been victorious five times, he is now back with a vengeance and this time, he has Imran on his side.  He was undefeated until 2002, and is very familiar with the voters and dynamic of the city. Furthermore, his role in the development of the city is widely acknowledged – he is often referred to as the Sir Syed of Rawalpindi, for having established numerous educational institutions.

And while PPP heavyweights are conspicuous by their absence, The Jamaat-e-Islami seems to be playing for keeps.

Although there are a number of madrassas in NA 55, mostly affiliated with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, the JI has also considerable presence. It has fielded Raza Ahmad Shah from NA 56, where it enjoys a strong vote-bank. It also considers two provincial constituencies, PP 13 and 14, as its strongholds.

According to sources, Sheikh Rashid has close contacts with these religious parties. In addition, the peers of Eid Gah Sharif and Mohra Sharif hold significant sway and are said to favour Sheikh Rashid.

And yet, despite the alliance, analysts say the PML-N‘s vote-bank is still strong. Its development work, carried out in the last five years, may gain them enough support to even foil the Sheikh Rashid- Imran Khan combine.

Key personalities

Elections 2002

NA-55 (Rawalpindi-VI)

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (PML-Q)

Runner up:
Agha Riaz-ul-Islam (PPP)

Retained by Sheikh Rashid. He contested as an independent candidate and later joined PML-Q.

NA-56 (Rawalpindi-VII)

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (PML-Q)

Runner up:
Sardar Shoukat Hayat (PPP)

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad also won NA-55, which he retained.  By-elections were held on January 15, 2003. Muhammad Hanif Abbasi of MMA emerged as the winner. For details see 2002 By-election results.

By-elections 2002

NA-56 (Rawalpindi-VII)

Hanif Abbasi (MMA)

Runner up:
Sheikh Rashid Shafiq  (PML-Q)

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (contested as independent candidate and later joined PML-Q) won this seat and another National Assembly seat, NA-55 Rawalpindi 6, which he retained.  By-elections were held on January 15, 2003. Muhammad Hanif Abbasi of MMA emerged as the winner.

Elections 2008

NA-55 (Rawalpindi-VI)

Javed Hashmi (PML-N)

Runner up:
Aamer Fida Paracha (PPP)

Javed Hashmi also won NA-123 and NA-149, he retained the latter. By-elections were held on June 26, 2008. Haji Pervaiz Khan of PML-N emerged victorious. The seat fell vacant after Khan’s resignation following the examination scandal. Malik Shakeel Awan of PML-N was elected in by-elections held on February 24, 2010. For details see 2008 By-election results.

NA-56 (Rawalpindi-VII)

Hanif Abbasi (PML-N)

Runner up:
Advocate Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan (PPP)

By-elections 2008

NA-55 (Rawalpindi-VI)

Haji Pervaiz Khan (PML-N)  Runner up:
Ijaz Khan Jazi (IND)             

Makhdoom Javed Hashmi also won NA-123 and NA-149, he retained the latter. By-elections were held on June 26, 2008. Haji Pervaiz Khan of PML-N emerged victorious. The seat fell vacant after Haji Pervaiz Khan’s resignation following the examination scandal. Malik Shakeel Awan of PML-N won the seat in by-elections held on February 24, 2010. For details see 2008 By-election results.

NA-55 (Rawalpindi-VI)

Malik Shakeel Awan (PML-N)

Runner up:
Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (AML)             

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2013.


Can Imran Khan and Sheikh Rasheed beat PML-N in Rawalpindi elections?

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Majid
    Apr 21, 2013 - 9:31AM

    PMLN will win again InshaAllah.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Apr 21, 2013 - 9:48AM

    PML(N) will win both seats comprehensively, however great grand alliance of two Tonga Parties will get enough votes to save their Guarantee Money.


  • Muhammad Asif Malik
    Apr 21, 2013 - 9:51AM

    N-League is feeling the heat of PTI.


  • usman
    Apr 21, 2013 - 10:02AM

    When counting their previous votes, please make sure to enunciate the fact that half of them were bogus (unverifiable in euphemism). So a mandate of 70,000 should be read as 35,000. Secondly, while about 37 million bogus votes were discarded, an equal amount of vote of the young blood will come into play this time around. With hopes of fair elections in these big cities in the presence of electronic media and the people seemingly unconvinced by the trophy projects and aspiring for a paradigm shift in government structures and priorities such as education, health, structural reforms in police, judiciary, and land records, a black swan event cannot be ruled out, not just in pindi or punjab but across Pakistan. This spring carries the fragrance of change in its air. Time for change, time for NAYA pakistan.


  • rabani
    Apr 21, 2013 - 11:16AM

    PML (N) will win both seats. Although I a, a supporter of PTI its very hard to beat PML in pindi DivisionRecommend

  • KH
    Apr 21, 2013 - 12:13PM

    And what good will happen if PML N wins again…ask your self and than vote….at last your vote is your choice….and will tell what will happen to Pakistan in next five years…


  • saeed
    Apr 21, 2013 - 12:27PM

    Who would have thought in there wildest of dreams two years ago that noon has to run from pillar to post for there 100 percent sure seats…they were sitting relaxed and happy for three years until tsunami struck them..PTI and IK has already won by pushing these status co parties to there limits and in the process at least the poor people of Pakistan have got some development to see..all the major developments in terms of construction and youth happened only after 30th October…We have already won..It dose not matter how many articles give this kind of perception that noon will win..the reality will be revealed soon Inshallah..


  • PTI_Supporter
    Apr 21, 2013 - 12:34PM

    ET trying hard to help out PMLN by promoting their cause.


  • ahsan
    Apr 21, 2013 - 12:38PM

    Na 56 is a sure win for PTI, there will be tough fight in na55


  • Kazim Muneer
    Apr 21, 2013 - 12:39PM

    This essay is an eyewash, whcih is probably written in order to deceive the public from reality.

    While PMLN is certainly a better consideration when compared with PPPP (or PPP – the NGO), the past record of PMLN Leaders is equally checkered and poor when compared with PPPP’s (Zardaris, Tappis, Shahs etc).

    In PMLN, the “core committee members” or “people who matters behind closed doors” comprise of too many Sharifs and/or immediate relatives (Saf-Dars). The party is a family party no matter how one look at it, with a prime objective of protecting commercial interests of the Group. Their focus of development is always been where their interests are. For example, they take pride on Lahore Islamabad Motorway Project. The cost of the Project (not considering heavy rehabilitation and maintenance costs over the past 15-20 years) is over RS 60 Billion (at a time when Rupee was under 50 against Dollar). It was not a viable project at all, but like a King, the Sharif went ahead with it without a proper feasibility thereby wasting tons of public money on something that has not economic benefits for common citizen of Pakistan as it goes from nowhere to nowhere (distance between Islamabad and Lahore doubled on Motorway, traffic remains lower than anticipated even today). On the other hand, if a Motorway plan was to be initaitied, it had to start in phases from South (Karachi) towards North (Torkahm) in order to meaningfully yield economic benefits to the peole of Pakistan and the Country. The procurement procedure was highly doubtful and it is a well known fact that the Contractor of the Project had close “relationship” with the Prime Minister Sharif who used to give calls to the Chairman of National Highway Authority from PM Secretariate or PM House for Meetings and Imposing favorable instructions directly from the PM’s mouth. All other projects that Sharif took yield not economic benefits for the common citizens of Pakistan. As a matter of fact, immediatly after nuclear blasts and before freezing the foreign exchange accounts of common Pakistanis, the learned Finance Minster (a relative of Sharif) managed to transfer hefty sums of Dollars belonging to Sharifs out of Pakistan swiftly. The matter is yet to be decided by the Courts for obvious reasons!!!

    How unfortunate can be the Citizens of the Land of Pure when they can not think properly and distinguish between right and wrong.


  • Touseef Ahmed
    Apr 21, 2013 - 12:44PM

    By-election between Shakeel Awan and Sheikh Rasheed;
    Shakil Awan gets 68000 votes and sheikh rasheed gets 42000 despite the fact that in 2008 Sheikh rasheed got only 20000 votes in 2008 elections.
    Ii is 2013 no Lal masjid, no musharaf, no Swat operation, no government machinery available to N league.
    Cant say anything for NA56 but NA55 is going to Sheikh Rasheed.


  • Bilal
    Apr 21, 2013 - 1:00PM

    Where is the PTI Flag in the Picture Above? In the flag key…


  • farooq
    Apr 21, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Amazing break up. But Please infront of Imran Khan you have written ‘AML’ kindly change it to PTI.


  • Usama
    Apr 21, 2013 - 1:14PM

    PTI & SR Will win these both seats with huge margins.


  • Truth
    Apr 21, 2013 - 1:37PM

    Vote for PMLN and enjoy 5 hours of electricity a day for next 5 years and also enjoy an over head on every chowk or an over over head after every 2 chowks. Iteffaq industries will emerge as the largest growing company in Asia. Money brought in to the country will be declared non taxable. More loans would be taken to solve energy crisis (already declared by Nawaz Sharif in interview with Talat Hussain). I better complete my comment before power load shedding. and I live in Punjab.


  • SF
    Apr 21, 2013 - 1:54PM

    PTI will clean sweep inshallah..


  • Zulfiqar
    Apr 21, 2013 - 2:29PM

    PML-N stand no chance in NA-55 and 56….


  • fahd
    Apr 21, 2013 - 2:34PM

    Wrong. Na 55 will be a tough fight no doubt, but na 56 will be curtains of pmln and hanif abassi. Drug sellers will never be chosen by people of pindi and i can guarantee you that hanif abassi will suffer an embarrassing defeat InshAllah


  • rizwan
    Apr 21, 2013 - 2:49PM

    Its going to be PTI InsAllah – Naya Pakistan


  • Shuja Khan
    Apr 21, 2013 - 4:08PM

    I am from NA56 and I know ground realities perhaps more than you all know. Actual situation suggest that Hanif Abbasi will beat Imran Khan more than 30,000 votes due to his hard work and the reputation he has in his area. PMLN development projects in Pindi would bolster his efforts. Please mark my word– defeat with more than 30,000 votes!!


  • Fawad Chaudary
    Apr 21, 2013 - 5:02PM

    My friends & family members from both constituencies will vote for PML-N.


  • Imran
    Apr 21, 2013 - 6:03PM

    PPP is in for a surprise of their lifetime. 100% Bhutto vote will go to PTI.


  • Omer
    Apr 21, 2013 - 6:11PM

    I am living in area of NA – 56. I can tell you ground realities. IK will sweep away NA-56 because of Hanif abbasi bad reputation. Secondly, fly overs which they developed created their negative image among business community. I am 100 perc sure IK will beat Hanif abbasi very badly


  • AAA
    Apr 21, 2013 - 6:41PM

    Shuja khan…u live in na 56 and will continue to live there. But your beloved Abbasi will be soon be buying houses in islamabad..lahore…murree ete etc….noora ruled u for over 30 years have u seen any policy that benefited you but amazingly their entire family multiplied their resources by 100…are they living under the same rules…???


  • lahori
    Apr 21, 2013 - 6:50PM

    dear people please vote to pmln and get lots of roads and flyovers that will change your life forever. when your children will be hungry just give them a flyover to eat. when they will be sick just give them ephedrine. when they need to go school ask them to learn road chemistry or traveling physics. what an ideal scenario will be in future….. your kids will drive “yellow cab” on beautifully build roads. and yes energy crises will be solved with bloodshed of Shiya community because KSA will give them credit line of crude oil with commitment please dont make good relation with Iran and support LeJ to kill innocent Shiyas.

    this all we know from past but you might also get something on top of that….. so plz plzzzzz vote to PMLN


  • neutral
    Apr 21, 2013 - 7:23PM

    If people are stupid enough to bring back the same two thugs (Shakeel Awan & Hanif Abbassi) who have enjoyed power for the last 5 years then quite frankly they deserve everything they get and they better stop complaining about the situation in Pakistan because they only have themselves to blame. I don’t live in Pakistan but have seen them both speak on TV talkshows and they both come across as ignorant, uneducated, ill-mannered, rude and gangsters. Let’s hope common sense and sanity prevails, and the people of Rawalpindi apply basic human intellect to keep these 2 gangsters away from parliament.


  • Apr 21, 2013 - 7:33PM

    Absolutely wrong analysis:( only jewellers and some big shops are with N for their vested interests. I saw maryam nawaz sharif with abbasi yesterday in 56 sadly 70 percent chairs were empty though it was already a small gathering.


  • IK lovers
    Apr 21, 2013 - 7:33PM

    @Muhammad Asif Malik:


  • Tanveer
    Apr 21, 2013 - 9:09PM

    Who are candidates of PTI in NA55 and NA56? Just give a thought to it and you will find PML(N) is much better than PTI. PML(N) will win Insh ALLAH.


  • PTI Supporter
    Apr 21, 2013 - 9:59PM

    For PMLN voters….

    If making bridges and roads is sign to good government, then bring back British raj they did development work, roads, rail, bridges and barrages that still stand today with no corruption.


  • bleed green
    Apr 21, 2013 - 10:56PM

    PTI will win NA-56 but N will probably win NA-55.


  • ShehryarAAwan
    Apr 21, 2013 - 11:24PM

    The poll results at the bottom of the page say it all.


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