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SAHIWAL: Major political parties have yet to come up with their lists of candidates for Sahiwal’s three National Assembly (NA) constituencies - NA-147 to 149 - but those who have been contesting elections for years are likely to be on election posters this time too.

There seems no major change of faces representing the leading political parties but lots of aspirants for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-N tickets are in the run. Only, the PPP Punjab parliamentary board will have no problem in picking their candidates for there is hardly any grouping or fight for party tickets for the seats.

Under the new delimitation regime, the district lost one NA seat as the previous NA-162 has been mostly merged with new NA-147 and 148, while NA-160 and 163 remained unchanged.

The shuffling of areas have disturbed PTI candidate Rai Murtaza in Chichawattni. Now the Rais are focusing on NA-149 (old NA-163) because their old NA-162 pockets have been divided between NA-147 and NA-148.

The situation has caused a competition for the PTI ticket between the Langriyals and the Rais.The PTI has a strong candidate for NA-147 in former minister Nouraiz Shakoor. Until 2002, he was the PPP central executive member when he defected to the PML-Q. In 2016, he joined PTI. Former PPP MPA Rana Aftab has also applied for the PTI ticket for NA-147. Both Mr Shakoor and Mr Aftab lost 2008 and 2013 election to PML-N’s Pir Imran Shah and Chaudhry Arshad Malik with a narrow margin. For NA-148, Anwar Ramay and Muhammad Yar Dhakko have applied for the PTI ticket. Also, there is a competition between Nouman Langriyal and Rai Murtaza, nephew of Rai Hasan Nawaz, for NA-149. The PML-N won 49 percent of total votes in 2013 in the district.

For NA-147, former MNA Pir Imran Shah and Ghulam Hussain, alias Shakir, have applied for the ticket. Pir Shah is facing resistance his own old supporters both in the city and in rural localities. Dawn learned the group recently invited Tehreek Labaik Pakistan’s (TLP’s) Khadim Husain Rizvi in Sahiwal and requested him to contest election for NA-147.

For NA-148, former MNA Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf, Malik Ramzan (father of former MPA Malik Arshad) and Pir Ihsanul Haq Idrees have applied for the ticket.

District Council Chairman Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal is also lobbing for NA-148 ticket. There are rumors he might join the the PTI if he is assured ticket for NA-148.

In NA-149, Chaudhry Munir Azhar, and former MNA Tufail Jutt are strong competitors for the party ticket.

So far the PPP, its Punjab parliamentarians board received four applications for the three seats.

PPP District President Chaudhry Zaki, former MNA Ghulam Farid Kathiya and former MNA Shahnaz Javed have applied for NA-147, 148 and 149. Mr Kathiya lost the seat in 2002 and 2013 but he represented the constituency in 2008.

The fourth candidate was former tehsil nazim Rana Amir Shahzad, who applied for NA-147 ticket. His chances for the ticket diminished after he was arrested in a Rs10.25 million bogus cheaque case.

Also, Shaikh Ijaz from the Muttahidda Majlis-i-Amal, said Arshad Mahmood and Haq Nawaz Durrani would be contesting on MMA tickets for NA-147 and NA-149.

The TLP is going to field Rai Mansab Kharal for NA-148.

Recently, TLP leader Rizvi addressed a big rally in the city. Rally organisers said they request him to contest the upcoming election from Sahiwal city. Though he turned down the offer, he, however, assured the organisers of addressing public gatherings in support of TLP candidate for NA-147.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2018