GUJRAT, March 16: Taking chance with a new entrant, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided to field former district naib nazim Syed Noorul Hasan Shah against Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira of the Pakistan People’s Party in NA-106 (Lalamusa-Dinga).

Former MPA Liaquat Bhadar will take on PPP’s Tanveer Ashraf Kaira, an MPA in PP-112 (Lalamusa).

Surprisingly, the PML-N has denied ticket to its diehard worker Chaudhry Jaafar Iqbal of Fatta Bhand and decided to field Unification Bloc MPA Mian Tariq Mehmood of Dinga in PP-113.

Jaafar, the Kharian tehsil president of the party, had been the PML-N candidate in the last two general elections and lost the 2008 contest with a margin of only 200 votes to Mian Tariq, then a PML-Q nominee. He later challenged the graduation degree of Mian Tariq who is also facing a corruption reference in the National Accountability Bureau.

MPA Mian Tariq had been a beneficiary of the National Reconciliation Ordinance but the apex court rejected it after which the NAB reference resurfaced.

Sources told Dawn that a meeting of the party leaders was held in Lahore on Friday, where CM’s senior adviser Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa, provincial secretary-general Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, two members of the committee for Gujrat district’s tickets MNA Saira Afzal Tarrar and MNA Junaid Anwaar and the aspirants for the party tickets for NA-106 and its two Punjab Assembly seats – PP-112 and -113 -- were present.

Sources said Mr Khosa had informed the participants about the party’s decision on the award of tickets. Relying on chance, the party reposed trust in Noorul Hassan Shah, Liaquat Bhadar and Mian Tariq who were the PML-Q candidates in the last general election.

Mr Shah and Mr Bhadar were the PML-Q nominees from NA-107 and PP-115 in the 2002 general election. Noor Shah was elected Gujrat district naib nazim in 2001 whereas his elder brother Syed Manzoor Hussain Shah (late) had been elected MNA in 1985, 1990 and 1997.

Noor Shah remained runners-up in the last general election by securing 71,016 votes against Qamar Kaira’s 89,555 votes.The Kairas of PPP and the Kulewal group of the PML are traditional rivals since 1988 in NA-106. The late Haji Asghar Kaira had won twice in 1988 and 1993 and then his nephew, Qamar Zaman Kaira, won the seat in 2002 and 2008.

The PML-N has overlooked the sacrifices of the old-timers. Insiders say Noor Shah and Mian Tariq have deep differences which the party has been trying to resolve.

Jaafar Iqbal can contest the election as an independent candidate from PP-113 as sources close to him said the party leadership had asked him around a week ago to be prepared for contesting from NA-106 against Qamar Kaira but ignored him at the last moment to accommodate the Unification Bloc.


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