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Lacklustre electioneering in NA-48

Updated July 22, 2013

ISLAMABAD, July 21: While the PML-N is yet to finalise its candidate for the by-election in NA-48, the nominees of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-i- Islami and even the PPP have started their campaigns.

The by-election in the urban constituency of Islamabad is scheduled to be held on August 22. The seat was vacated by Javed Hashmi of the PTI.

The most active candidates are Asad Umar of the PTI and Mian Aslam of the JI.

Like the May 11 elections, the campaign of PPP’s Faisal Sakhi Butt is still centred on the social elites of the city.

“The main issue is that nobody came out to contest the by-election and the only person willing to present the party was Sakhi Butt,” said a senior worker of the PPP.

Though there seems to be a lacklustre interest in the by-polls, a visibly active electioneering has been launched by the PTI candidate, who is confident of regaining the seat.

“The PTI has a vote bank in the constituency and it is my duty to bring it out on the election day,” said Mr Umar.

But there are reports that unlike the towering personality of Javed Hashmi, many local leaders of the PTI are disgruntled with the party over its decision to award the ticket to Mr Umar - a Karachite.

“Yes these reports are correct and many have even said this directly to me. But ultimately we have to adhere to the party discipline and I am being supported by the local party cadre,” he added.

Regarding the slow movement of his campaign as it was concentrated around traders or locally popular personalities, he said creating an atmosphere was the final phase of the election campaign.

“We will do that in the last week by holding public rallies and Imran Khan will also be here by that time,” he added.

While Mr Umar is more in the open, the JI candidate is active in close-door meetings besides utilising the religious fervour during Ramazan.

“Due to the sanctity of the month, we are not very much open but my focus is on Iftar meetings,” Mian Aslam said.

These Iftaris are currently being focused on the trader community of the constituency as NA-48 has a large number of markets and commercial centres.

Besides, Mr Aslam has a traditional habit of attending funeral prayers and condoling with the families of the deceased persons, especially in the rural areas.

Incidentally, the decision makers of the ruling party have yet to bring their focus on NA-48. As many as 24 PML-N workers have filed nomination papers and all of them are campaigning within the party to get selected.

However, the special attention of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on improving the standards of Islamabad, including its traffic system, indicates that his ‘say’ will carry a large weight in the final choice of the candidate.