Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan is back on board the by-election campaign, but the PML-N claims to have a comprehensive strategy planned out. Apart from a few PPP candidates who have their own vote-banks, the former ruling party is not much of a competition for others.
The PML-N has its eyes set on 13 out of the 15 Punjab Assembly seats and five National Assembly seats out of total of six due to be polled in the by-elections across the province, officials told The Express Tribune.
The competition in Punjab is basically between the PML-N and PTI, with the former attempting to clean sweep the by-polls to psychologically pre-empt the latter before the upcoming local government elections.
Mianwali: still a PTI stronghold?
NA-71 (Mianwali-I) can be the toughest seat for the PML-N to win. Imran Khan vacated this seat, leaving the party scrambling for a suitable candidate. The PML-N has fielded Obaidullah Khan Shadi Khel who was defeated by Imran in the May 11 elections, while the PTI has pitched Malik Waheed Khan to contest this hot seat.
Malik Waheed is the father-in-law of PTI’s disqualified candidate from this constituency, Ayla Malik.
However, her disqualification and her weak replacement may tilt the tide in favour of the PML-N and potentially fill the gap of around 60,000 votes between Shadi Khel and Khan.
Keeping it local
NA-68 (Sargodha-V) is the only seat where the party’s office-bearers within the district are contesting by-elections. This seat was vacated by Nawaz Sharif and now PML-N’s Sardar Muhammad Shafqat Hayat Khan is the hot favourite against PTI’s Malik Nazir Ahmed Sobhi.
Sobhi was formerly PML-N’s district vice president, which adds to the competition. An independent candidate Javed Hussain was also PML-N’s local office-bearer. Both will give a tough time to Khan.
‘Brothers in arms’?
PP-243 (Dera Ghazi Khan) will be challenging for the PML-N. This seat is unique as two sons of PML-N Senator Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa are contesting against each other. PML-N’s Sardar Hissamuddin Khan is up against his younger brother PPP’s Sardar Saifuddin Khan Khosa.
The PML-N is in an awkward position on this seat because of the family involvement and this constituency historically staying with the party and the Khosa clan. PTI’s Ahmed Ali Direshak will most probably not put up any serious challenge.
Similarly, two cousins are also up against each other in PP-150 (Lahore-XIV). PML-N’s Mian Marghoob Ahmed will contest against PTI’s Maher Wajid Azam who will divide the Arain tribe vote, and consequently divide the historical PML-N vote bank.
Maghroob had previously won the MNA seat of the constituency.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.