ali aftabs article

Taking time out from his own constituency, Ali looks at the neck-to-neck battle unfolding in NA- 122

Even though my constituency is NA-126, but at the moment my real interest is in NA-122. It encompasses mostly the area from Ichra to Shahjamal, Shadmaan, Old Race Course, Zaman Park and Davis Road. PML-N and PTI are the major contenders here and everybody is expecting a great fight.

Another reason is that on my way home from the office a couple of hours ago, I followed Imran’s election truck. He visited his constituency for the first time, which is really weird. Even though Shahbaz Sharif hasn’t started campaigning yet from his constituency, his circumstance is different from Imran Khan. The latter, on the other hand, has to compete against Sardar Ayaz Sadiq who has been campaigning vigorously for the past week. He’s not only going door to door but also running his election adverts on local cable channels.

Before plunging into the depths of this competition amongst these two candidates, let’s devote a couple of lines to PPP’s candidate because it shall suffice for our argument. Barrister Amir Hassan, a very enthusiastic young politician, is actually spending money on the campaign out of his own pocket. So, good luck to him. The ticket was initially allotted to Umar Misbah, son of the reserved seat MNA Yasmin Rehman. Since Rehman’s name wasn’t in the top ten list of reserved-seat MNAs this time around, Umar refused to run for the elections. Apparently, there wasn’t any need for this boycott because Umar’s father, Mian Misbah, is still MD at Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited.

Imran’s late start to the campaign is on account of his over confidence, even though rumour has it that this ticket was first offered to other members of PTI. Since all others refused to contest from this constituency, Imran took it upon himself to add yet another constituency to his name. But Imran Khan’s confidence has risen to another level. It is now reported that Imran has had talks with Aleem Khan that since he’s going to win his seat from Mianwali and this constituency, he is going to hang on to Mianwali himself and pass this one to Aleem Khan in the by-elections.

Looking at Imran’s PML-N counterpart, Ayaz Sadiq, who won the last two elections from this constituency, it seems almost arrogant to claim that the seat is already won. Ayaz Sadiq has been the member of Railway Standing Committee and has managed to provide employment to many people in his constituency, not to mention that several roads were also constructed during his tenure.

Another bad luck for Imran Khan, Sadiq is one of the very few PML- N candidates who is very sophisticated and composed. So contrary to his other competing candidates, Imran Khan won’t have an edge over his PML-N opponent when it comes to his suave manners. There is a Christian slum near Shah Jamal. They have always been PPP loyalists. I went there myself and asked around. To my surprise, the majority have made up their mind to vote for PML-N. I asked the reason and found their logic unconvincing. But let’s not get into trivial details.

Campaigning is really tough this time in all the provinces except Punjab because militants are discouraging it by blasting bombs and target killing politicians. Such extreme conditions will hopefully not prevail in the Punjab. However, some unfortunate incidents here and there can be expected. If such events occur, Imran’s hope to bring reluctant voters out of their houses will be jeopardized since middle class youth prefer to remain indoors during precarious security situations and their parents are also very protective about them.

In such circumstances, I don’t think ECP will take too much notice of the pick and drop practice of voters by the different political parties. That doesn’t necessarily mean an advantage for PML-N because now, even PTI has veteran politicians who know how to mobilize the voters on election day.

In NA-122, there are two provincial seats: PP-147 & PP-148. Shoaib Siddique and Aslam Iqbal are PTI’s candidates for these two seats. Both have been ministers in the past. Noon league has Mohsin Latif who won the 2008 election from this constituency and he is also the nephew of Kulsoom Nawaz. At PP 148 we have a big surprise. Akther Rasool , who has been in political wilderness for over two decades, has been preferred over Mian Nauman who won the 2008 election.