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When lady luck smiles at an MPA

Updated February 14, 2018

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LAHORE: When lady luck smiles at someone his [political] fortunes start to build without any effort. The dictum holds true for Rana Mehmoodul Hassan, one of the PML-N nominees for general seats of Senate in Punjab.

The former parliamentarian from Multan was “untraceable” when the PML-N leadership decided to award him a party ticket for the Senate from Punjab late on Feb 7, while Feb 8 was the last day for filing the candidatures.

A close aide of Mr Hasan told Dawn on Tuesday that after watching the late-night show in an Islamabad cinema the ex-parliamentarian had reached the Punjab House in the early hours of Thursday (Feb 8) and went to bed, switching off his cell phones so that he was not disturbed during sleep.

The official said that even the family of the ex-MNA was unaware of his whereabouts.

Mr Hassan was finally traced, thanks to the efforts of Shahbaz government, in the morning and was informed of the party decision.

When he expressed his inability to file the nomination papers as he required time to collect all necessary documents and complete other formalities while only a few hours had left to do the task, he was told that a special plane would fly him from Islamabad to Lahore where all documentation would be complete by the time he would land in the Punjab capital, he said.

And that’s how he managed to submit his candidature for the upper house of parliament in time.

A source privy to the development said the decision to award Senate ticket to Mr Hassan was taken after reports that though he enjoyed support of 40,000 to 50,000 voters from his biradari, like in the 2013 contest he won’t be able win the National Assembly seat in the 2018 polls.

Mr Hassan had been twice elected as MNA on PML-N ticket -- in 2002 and 2008 – but lost to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the 2013 election from NA-150 that comprised Mumtazabad area of Multan.

The source blames the changed demography of the constituency, which now mostly comprises new housing societies, along with thinning of Rangar biradari in the area, for Hassan’s defeat.

Though he was elected to the Punjab Assembly in 2017 by-polls from PP-196, he was reluctant to run for the provincial seat from the constituency in the forthcoming general election.

In a bid to avoid likely loss of Mr Hassan’s biradari votes and a party seat from Multan, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif decided to award him Senate ticket so that a better candidate could be fielded against Mr Qureshi in the next electoral bout, said the source.

To a query, he said a similar arrangement had been made for Dera Ghazi Khan, where Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith-backed MNA Hafiz Abdul Kareem had been given Senate ticket by the party to put a strong front against the PML-N deserter Sardar Zulfikar Khosa’s group on the advice of the rival Legharis.

Though Hafiz Kareem’s papers had been rejected by the Election Commission during scrutiny, he’s going to challenge the ECP decision in a court of law, expecting relief.

The source recalled that a similar bargain had been struck in Bhakkar when Zafar Dhandala had been given a Senate ticket in 2012 instead of launching him for the National Assembly in 2013 polls.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018