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SAHIWAL: As the general election draws near, two mainstream parties, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), have made adjustments within their ranks in Sahiwal to avoid any differences which might have been detrimental to their election campaign and divide their voters.

It is confirmed Rai Hasan Nawaz, Ex-MNA and district Nazim, belonging to Chichawatni, succeeded to earn PTI tickets for his nephew Rai Murtaza for both NA-149, Sahiwal III, and PP-201, respectively.

Sources in the PTI say that though Malik Nouman Langrial had threatened to contest election as an independent candidate against the Rais, he later agreed to contest from PP-202; otherwise, the party had an option to award PP-202 ticket to Saeed Ahmed Chaudhry.

In the PML-N, the Jutt brothers reached a compromise with former MNA Chaudhry Munir Azhar and the three Jutt brothers (Arshad, Tufail and Hanif) by withdrawing the elder brother (Chaudhry Arshad Jutt) from PML-N ticket race secured both the MNA and MPA seats for the two brothers while accommodating Munir Azhar’s son on PP-202 seat.

After final delimitations by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), district Sahiwal has lost one National Assembly seat from Chichawatni tehsil. Earlier, it had four seats, NA-160 to 163, while now it had three constituencies, NA-147 to 149. Under the new delimitations, NA-162, Sahiwal III, merged with NA-148 and NA-149. The constituency was a stronghold of both the Rais and the Jutts of Chichawatni while NA-163 was traditional seat of Langrial family.

Both the Langrials and Rais were with Gen Pervez Musharraf after his coup and supported PML-Q from 2002 to 2008. Rai Hasan Nawaz was elected twice from district Sahiwal on the PML-Q ticket. But after Musharraf’s exit from the Presidency, the Rais were the first to join the PTI followed by Langrials.

Rai Hasan Nawaz and Rai Azizullah both have a good say in the PTI hierarchy and on the same basis, the former was made president of the PTI south Punjab. Rai Nawaz had defeated PML-N candidate in 2013 election on the PTI ticket. After NA-162 deletion, both Rai and Langrials were strong contestants of the PTI ticket from NA-149. Nouman Ahmed Langrial had won 2008 election and was a runner-up against PML-N’s Ch Munir Azhar in 2013 election.

After disqualification of Rai Hasan Nawaz in 2016, his nephew Rai Murtaza had contested the by-election but he lost to the PML-N’s Tufail Jutt in Chichawatni. It is interesting to note that both Rai Murtaza and Nouman Langrial had applied for NA-149 and PP-201 and PP-202 ticket simultaneously in the PTI. It is confirmed the battle was won by Rai Murtaza who was granted NA-149 and PP- 201 tickets simultaneously while Nouman Langrial had to agree for PP-202 ticket.

Like the PTI, the PML-N leaders have also made adjustments in NA-149. Ch Munir Azhar had won 2013 election on PNL-N ticket while Chaudhry Tufail Jutt had won 2016 Chichawatni by-election on the party ticket by defeating Rai Murtaza. Now Munir Azhar and the Jutt brothers (Tufail and Hanif Jutt) are strong aspirants of PML-N ticket from the constituency. The Jutt brothers have strong connection in the PML-N high command because in previous assemblies one brother was MNA while other two were MPAs.

Sources close to the situation told Dawn that Chaudhry Munir Azhar and Jutt brothers have struck a deal and Chaudhry Arshad Jutt has decided not to contest 2018 election because of health issues.

It has been decided that Munir Azhar would withdraw his candidature from NA-149 and his son Shahid Munir Azhar will be given PP-202 ticket while Chaudhry Tufail Jutt and Chaudhry Hanif Jutt will secure PML-N ticket for NA-149 and PP-201, respectively.

Sources in the PML-N have confirmed that the party had awarded MNA ticket to Tufail Jutt and MPA tickets to Shahid Munir Azhar and Hanif Jutt for PP-202 and 201, respectively.

The PPP has already awarded its ticket to Begum Shahnaz Javed for NA-149 seat.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2018