MULTAN, July 15: The bye-poll for NA-151, Multan, has drawn the political lines: it is again the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) verses all. This time all political parties of the defunct Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) of the 90s have announced their support for independent candidate Shaukat Bosan.
A visit to the constituency is enough to prove this. Mr Bosan’s election billboards are gracing the pictures of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami Amir Munawar Hasan and PML-N President Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Besides these parties, the Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith and Jamiat Ulma-i- Pakistan have also supported Mr Bosan.
The by-election for the seat, that fell vacant as a result of disqualification of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on April 26, will be held on July 19.
The local leaders of the Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith met at a meeting presided over by district ameer Sheikh Sharif Changwani a few days back and decided to favour Mr Bosan.
Similarly the local leadership of the Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam also extended their support for the independent candidate.“We have decided to support Mr Bosan at the local level as the central leaders have allowed the district chapter to take a decision keeping in view the local political situation,” JI spokesperson Kanwar Siddique said.
Mr Bosan faces Abdul Qadir Gilani, the son of the former prime minister Gilani, a candidate of the PPP.
Though he has failed to attract support from the parties, Mr Gilani did gather support from the PML-N candidate for NA-151 in 2008 elections, Malik Majid Bucha, the Shia community of the Suraj Miani locality and the Catholic Bishop of Multan. In his speeches, Mr Gilani speaks about his father’s efforts for the Seraiki province and development schemes for the city.
Three days ago, Catholic Bishop of Multan Andrew Francis invited Mr Gilani to Catholic Church and prayed for his successes. He urged the Christian community to vote for the PPP candidate.
Major Shia representative organisations such as the Millat-i-Jafria and the Anjuman Tahafuz-i-Azadari-i-Imam Hussain (Mahr Muzaiyan Abbas Chawan Group) also announced their support for the PPP candidate at a gathering at Soraj Miani.
Millat-i-Jafria leader Allama Taqi Naqvi and Anjuman Tahafuz-i-Azadari-i-Imam Hussain’s Shafqat Hussain Bhutta are working for the PPP candidate.
As no central leader of the PML-N made any announcement regarding the by-election, local leadership is divided over supporting Mr Bosan.
Former PML-N city vice-president Ashiq Ali Shujra is working for Mr Gilani while PML-N District President Bilal Butt and General Secretary Sheikh Athar Mumtaz are supporting Mr Bosan.
Both groups accuse each other of violating the party policy.
The PML-N district chapter issued a show-cause notice to Mr Shujra on Sunday for his decision to support the junior Gilani.
PML-N district general secretary Sheikh Athar Mumtaz said that he had issued the notice to Mr Shujra on the direction of the PML-N district president. He said the district body was following the instructions of the provincial leadership.
Mr Shujra shrugged off the action and said that he was not bothered by the show-cause notice and called it an illegal activity.
He said he would reply the notice only to tell the issuer that serving a notice on him did not fall under the domain of the district body and only the city chapter was authorised to seek any explanation from him. He justified his support for the PPP candidate.
He said Mr Bosan was the brother of PTI leader Sikandar Bosan and PTI Chairman Khan had launched a campaign against the PML-N leadership. He said he deemed it unfair to support the PTI candidate.