NA-172 by-polls : Main parties’ choice of candidates confuses voters

Several PML-N voters say that Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa has not so far asked them to support the PML-N candidate.


Abdul Manan December 06, 2010

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party workers in NA-172 say they are confused about the candidates fielded by their parties for the upcoming by elections.

Several PML-N voters told The Express Tribune that Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa had not so far asked them to support Hafiz Abdul Karim, the PML-N candidate, in the by-poll. They said that if Karim won, it would be because of his own efforts. They said that most people in the constituency had lost their belongings to the flood, adding that Karim was distributing huge funds among them to make sure that they support him in the by-polls.

Hafiz Karim belongs to the Ahle Hadith school. Local pundits said that due to his contacts in Saudi Arabia, Karim had developed a good rapport with Sharif brothers. This, they added, had helped him secure a PML-N ticket in spite of strong opposition from Zulfiqar Khosa. Several PML-N workers in the constituency confirmed that Khosa was worried about Karim’s candidacy. They said that he was worried that if Karim won on the NA-172 seat he would be encouraged to field his son from PP 244 in the next general elections (currently Dost Muhammad Khosa, Zulfiqar Khosa’s son, is an MPA from the seat).

PPP workers, On the other hand, are dissatisfied with the nomination of Shabbir Leghari. They said that there were around 80,000 anti-Leghari votes in the constituency. They said that most PPP voters would be unwilling to support a Leghari owing to Farooq Leghari’s betrayal of Benazir Bhutto.

About Shabbir’s performance in the 2008 elections, workers said that the 36,000 votes he secured were mostly polled due to the PPP candidates on the provincial assembly seats falling under the NA constituency.

These included PP 244 and PP 245. Shibli Shabkhez secured 15,000 votes from PP 244 and Dr Saeed Buzdar 17,000 from PP 245 in the 2008 general elections.

Another three union councils under the constituency fell in PP 243 from where PPP’s Sardar Rehan Khosa pulled off some votes for Shabbir Leghari.

Some PPP workers said that Leghari family was content with Shabbir Legghari’s nomination by the PPP. This, they reasoned, might prevent PML-N’s Karim benefitting from anti-Farooq Leghari and pro-PPP voters.

They said that had the PPP selected a worker like Dr Saeed Buzdar, who defeated Leghari family on the provincial seat in 2008, there may have been a tough contest.

The PPP workers further feared that if elected Shabbir Leghari would only work for people of his own tribe. They criticised the party leadership for providing around 24,000 forms of the Benazir Income Support Programme to Farooq Leghari, his elder son Senator Jamal Leghari and MNA Sardar Jaffer Leghari.

These forms, they said, were meant to be distributed among the people of the constituency but were only given to Leghari tribesmen.

Observers said that there was no difference between Owais Leghari and Shabbir Leghari’s campaigns, adding that not many people in the tribe would bypass their chief, Owais’s elder brother, and vote for Shabbir.

NA 172 seat fell vacant after the death of PML-Q MNA and former president Farooq Leghari. The by-poll was earlier scheduled for December 14 but was then postponed due to Muharram.

Contestants

The PML-Q has nominated Farooq Leghari’s son and former federal minister Owais Leghari for the upcoming NA 172 by-poll.

The PML-N and the PPP have given their tickets to Hafiz Abdul Kareem and Shabbir Leghari respectively.

2008 elections

Farooq Leghari defeated PML-N’s candidate Hafiz Karim by a narrow margin of 3,476 votes in 2008 general elections.

PPP’s Shabbir Leghari stood third. Farooq Leghari got 45,370 votes, Kareem 41,894 and Shabbir Leghari 36,401.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2010.

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