Election preparations have reached a feverish pitch in Khanewal district and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz appears positioned to win the largest number of seats in the elections on Thursday (today).
There are 135 union councils in Khanewal district – 35 UCs in Khanewal tehsil, 46 in Kabirwala tehsil, 36 in Mian Channu tehsil, and 18 in Jahanian tehsil. Khanewal comprises six municipal committees – Khanewal, Jahanian, Mian Channu, Kabirwala, Tulamba and Abdul Hakim. There are 114 wards in the district – 44 in Khanewal, 12 in Kabirwala, 20 in Mian Channu, 11 in Jahanian, 12 in Abdul Hakim and 15 in Tulamba. The district has four National Assembly and eight Provincial Assembly constituencies. Surgana, Syed, Arain, Siyal, Malik, Khokhar and Rajput biradaris are among the more prominent clans in the district.
Some residents say though the PML-N has fielded the most candidates and is most likely to sweep elections, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf might just give the party a tough competition. The Pakistan Peoples Party and the Jamaat-i-Islami have also fielded some candidates, however, residents say, there are several independent candidates who might just give the ticket holders a run for their money.
The PML-N had swept the 2013 general elections. MNAs Muhammad Khan Daha from Khanewal, Chauhdry Iftikhar Nazir form Jahania and Pir Aslam Bodla from Mianchannu and MPAs Nishat Daha from Khanewal, Chaudhry Fazlur Rahman, Rana Babar Hussain, Amir Hayat Harraj from Mian Channu an Karamdad Wahla from Jahanian tehsil had won with clear majority.
Politics in Khanewal district is dominated by certain powerful families that can make or break major parties’ political clout in the area. These include: the Niazis, Harrajs, Baigs, Khaggas, Dahas, Bodlas, Wynes, Qureshis, Wahlas, Maitlas, Raos, Gillanis and Syeds.
Familial and political lines tend to cross sometimes. This time around, several lawmakers have fielded their own relatives.
Former provincial minister Haji Irfan Daha and his son Muhammad Khan Daha, who is also an MNA, are actively campaigning for their candidates in the local government elections.
MNA Nishat Ahmad Khan Daha is supporting his nephew Masood Majeed Daha for chairman. In Kabirwala, Syed Fakhar Imam has nominated his son Abid Imam for chairman. Abid Imam has been elected chairman unopposed.
In Jahanian tehsil, MPA Chauhdry Iftekhar has nominated his younger brother Chauhdry Ziaur Rahman for district council chairman. Haji Ataur Rahman has been elected chairman of the municipal corporation unopposed. In Mian Channu tehsil, MPA Aslam Bodla is supporting his younger brother Pir Ahmad Nadeem Bodla for district council chairman and Amir Bodla for municipal corporation chairman. Pir Ahmad Nadeem Bodla was earlier deputy chairman in the new district government system.
Begum Majeeda Wyne, widow of former chief minister Chauddry Ghulam Haider Wyne, is supporting her niece Ghazala Wyne for chairperson.
The Haraaj Group are actively campaigning in NA 157, PP 214 and PP 215. There were rumours that Sardar Ahmad Yar Harraj and Sardar Hamid Yar Harraj had joined the PTI, but nothing materialised.
Among independent candidates, Dr Shafiqur Rahman Kamboh is the most prominent. He had bagged 15,000 votes as an MPA candidate during the 2013 general elections.
Political parties and independents had been campaigning round-the-clock in the past few weeks. The district administration, the election commission and the police have completed their.
The ECP has set up 1,076 polling stations in the district – 114 for men, 102 for women and 860 polling stations for both. There are 3,252 polling booths – 1,728 for men and 1,542 for women. The ECP has appointed 1,076 presiding officers and 3,206 assistant presiding officers alongside 12,000 polling staff in Khanewal district. Strict measures have been taken to ensure security of candidates, and members of Provincial and National Assemblies. Additional contingents of the police and Rangers will be deployed to assist district police.
Khanewal became a district in 1985. It borders Jhang, Toba Tek Singh, Vehari and Multan districts. According to the 1998 census, the population of Khanewal district is 2,068,490. However, recent unofficial estimates suggest it has crossed 2.5million people. 18 per cent of the population resides in urban areas and 82 per cent in rural areas. Khanewal district spans 4,349 sq meters.
There are 139,791 voters in Khanewal district. It is divided into four sub districts: Khanewal, Jahanian, Mian Channu and Kabirwala. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan 217,175 voters are men and 106,488 voters are women.
In Khanewal district, 513 candidates had submitted their nomination papers and 49 of them later withdrew their nomination. 459 candidates are contesting polls for chairman and vice chairman slots. Five candidates have been elected unopposed.
As many as 2,579 candidates submitted nomination papers for general councillor slots. Of them, 218 withdrew their nominations later while 101 councillors have been elected unopposed.
Most of the residents complain of lack of sanitation facilities, limited access to safe drinking water, lack of educational facilities and rampant unemployment in rural areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2015.