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MULTAN, July 13: The existing electoral college of 2,500 voters elects the Multan Zila Nazim on Monday (today) to fill the vacant slot for the remaining term of two years.

The office fell vacant in August last year when Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, first ZN of Multan, resigned to become a member of the National Assembly.

Initially, his deputy Malik Amer Dogar was designated as acting ZN but soon he was replaced with DCO Maj Azam Suleman Khan (retd). Therefore, the district will have an elected ZN from today after a bureaucratic rule of almost a year.

Some five candidates are vying for the slot. They are former MNA Pir Riaz Hussain Qureshi, former MNA Sheikh Tahir Rasheed, Mufti Hidayatullah Pasruri, Engineer Muhammad Ishfaq and Lateef Ansar Lajpal.

Pir Riaz has deserted the PPP to join ruling PML-Q before the filing of nomination papers for the ZN slot and, therefore, his stakes are high for being the official candidate to get hold of the office vacated by his close relative who later contested the election for the office of prime minister on PPP ticket.

But, insiders say that his merit to win over official support is not only that he is a close relative of Shah Mehmood as he has some other weapons as well in his armoury to become the strongest candidate to notch the top district slot in a way that all the friends and foes who mattered in the local politics of the district are united for his success.

The most-asked question to the local political analysts by a common man is how it has been possible that all the traditional political rival groups in the district — Gilanis, Bosans, Hashmis, Qureshis, Diwans, Laangs, Noons and Syeds — have ignored their previous bitter political relations to join hands for the victory of Pir Riaz.

Circles close to him, however, do not hesitate in revealing how ‘Pir Sahib’ has managed to have all the political forces behind him for the July 14 battle.

According to them, Pir Sahib has strong links both in civil and military bureaucracy. One of his brothers is a retired deputy commissioner while another is a serving senior military officer who till recently held an important post in the country’s most powerful intelligence agency.

A top bureaucrat in Punjab, who was a part of the official team that reportedly played a pivotal role in the success of PML-Q in the province in the last general elections, is said to be his chum. Perhaps, therefore, the other candidates for the ZN slot have shown a little interest in electioneering which remained by and large a one-sided affair. People irrespective of their political affiliations were seen throwing receptions in the honour of Pir Riaz.