Four heavyweights are contesting from National Assembly (NA) constituency 130.
The constituency comprises 12-and-a-half Lahore union councils (UC) and borders India. A majority of the population is rural. There are a little over 350,000 registered voters.
The Ghurkis, Diyals, Awans, Butts and Dogras are some of the important families that dominate the politics in the area. Allegations are rife of their support for smugglers, drug traffickers, gangsters and land grabbers.
The area has no public hospital, college or sports grounds. Voters mention uninhibited sale of narcotics, adulterated soft drinks and gambling dens as serious law and order problems.
Some villages of the constituency including Wagha, Burki, Hadiara, Thatha Tararan, Qalia Jewan Singh, Thapura, Banochack, Ghurki, Sanakey, Lalo, Diyal and Bhaseen fall along the border (zero line) with India.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has fielded Sohail Shoukat Butt as its candidate, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Inasaf has put forward Talib Sindhu, Samina Khalid Ghurki is the Pakistan People Party’s candidate while the Jamaat-i-Islami has given its ticket to Chaudhry Manzoor Gujjar.
Most of the constituents are engaged in low-wage jobs. Many are mechanics, electricians, skilled or unskilled masons, carpenters and cobblers.
A Bata factory is a major employer. Any labour not employed there heads to the city for work. The rural population mostly works the land.
The majority of the urban union councils consist of working and middle classes and most run small businesses.
Former caretaker prime minister Malik Meraj Khalid (late) and Jamaat-i-Islami’s Qazi Hussain Ahmed had contested polls from the area.
Muhammad Asghar Ghurki (late) became the MNA in 1985 in partyless general elections, Malik Miraj Khalid of PPP was voted in in 1988, Pakistan Muslim League’s Ashiq Diyal won the constituency in 1990, PPP’s Khalid Ghurki in 1993, Ashiq Diyal, running as an independent candidate, took the constituency in 1997 and Samina Khalid Ghurki was elected twice in 2002 and then again in 2008.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had not fielded a candidate here in the last three elections (1997, 2002 and 2008) and even this time its candidate is considered weak. The PPP has been the popular party.
Jutt, Meo, Arain, Gujjar, Butt, Sheikh, Awan and Rajput are the main biradaris here.
After, the PML-N refused its ticket to the Diyals they have allied themselves with the Ghurki family and have a ticket for PP-158. The Ghurkis and Diyals, historically, have never seen eye-to-eye so this alliance is viewewd with some mistrust.
PML-N’s Butt has been defeated in the past by the PPP nominee from the PP-157 seat. Butt’s education qualification is lower than his competitors.
Sindhu, a former PML-Q MPA from PP-157, is not considered a financially strong candidate opposite the ‘big families’.
Voter sympathy for PPP’s Ghurki has dipped. The heavy loadshedding in the area in the past five years seems to be the biggest factor against the two-time winner.
JI’s candidate Gujjar is popular with the rural residents. He has the support of his biradari and has been twice elected as nazim from Lakhodar (union council-42). Holding an engineering degree, the JI candidate is seen as strong.
The NA-130 constituency has two provincial constituencies, PP-157 and PP-158. In PP-157 PML-N had put forward Rana Tajammul, Hammad Sarwar is running on PTI’s ticket, Babar Sohail Butt on PPP’s and JI has fielded Amer Jalil.
Tajammul is the outgoing MPA but his popularity is on the wane as he has not been accessible to the public. Allegations of links with criminals have marred Butt’s candidacy. PTI’s candidate could be the strongest here.
In PP-158, the PML-N candidate is Malik Ghulam Habib, a former PPP MPA from the area.
PTI’s ticket holder Tahir Majid Mayo was elected as a UC nazim and has the support of the Meo Baradari which is a majority in the constituency. PPP’s candidate, Naveed Ashiq Diyal, was a former PML-Q MPA who joined PPP a week back. The JI candidate is Amer Hayat Bajwa.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.