KARACHI/LAHORE: For the first time in past few decades, the country’s largest city is set to see the leadership of at least three major political parties contesting from its various constituencies as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz also decided to field its president Shahbaz Sharif from here after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has opted for it.
Mr Sharif, who assumed the party’s highest post after the disqualification of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif, would contest for three National Assembly seats from Karachi, NA-248, NA-249 and NA-250, PML-N leaders confirmed to Dawn after the party’s parliamentary board meeting in Lahore on Sunday.
However, they said, the PML-N president might not visit Karachi on Monday — the last day for filing nomination papers for the general elections — due to his preoccupation somewhere else. Instead, a former Punjab minister Rana Mashhood would file the papers, which have already been received by the party’s general secretary in Sindh Saleem Zia, on his behalf.
“The PML-N parliamentary board members are of the opinion that the party head should contest from Karachi as well, because law and order has been restored to the city due to PML-N government’s policies,” said PML-N leader Mohammad Mehdi.
Just a couple of days ago, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had announced that the party chairman, Imran Khan, would contest the upcoming elections from Karachi’s NA-243 constituency also, while Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will contest from the PPP’s stronghold, Lyari, for NA-246 seat.
Maryam gets party ticket for NA-125, NA-127
Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Farooq Sattar and Pak Sarzameen Party chief Mustafa Kamal will contest from the NA-247 constituency comprising areas of Defence, Clifton, Saddar, Arambagh and Karachi cantonment.
Khawaja Tariq Nazeer, PML-N’s information secretary, said Rana Mashhood would file nomination papers of his party president in the constituencies falling in Karachi’s West district. PML-N leaders, however, said Mr Sharif might withdraw from NA-250 in support of Awami National Party (ANP) chief Shahi Syed in case of seat adjustment.
A PML-N insider said Mr Sharif would contest from NA-249. “Shahbaz may file nomination papers from three constituencies of Karachi but he would contest from NA-249.” Earlier, PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan had planned to contest from NA-249.
NA-249 (West II) comprises Saeedabad, Gulshan-i-Ghazi, Naval Colony, Ittehad Town, Rasheedabad, Islam Nagar, parts of Baldia Town, Mominabad, etc.
“Since the PML-N stands a good chance from this constituency Shahbaz Sharif will take his chances from NA-249,” he added.
While the PML-N is under immense pressure in Punjab, where many of its electable leaders have joined the PTI, it is hopeful that its performance in Sindh may improve in the upcoming elections.
Besides Karachi, Mr Sharif is likely to run for two NA seats — one each from Lahore and Dera Ghazi Khan. “The decision whether or not Shahbaz should also contest on a provincial assembly seat in Punjab has not been taken by the board. But former foreign minister Khwaja Asif will contest for a provincial seat in addition to the National Assembly from Sialkot,” the PML-N insider said, adding that one could not say with certainty at the moment if Shahbaz had a role to play in the Centre and Khwaja Asif might be retained in Punjab for party politics.
Shahbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz appeared before the party’s parliamentary board on Sunday to seek tickets for polls, apparently making it mandatory for everyone, including the party’s maverick leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, to appear before the board to obtain the ticket.
Chaudhry Nisar reacted to this condition by asking whether it had ever happened in the past that the most senior members of the party, who had been elected members of parliament several times, were made to appear before the board to seek the party ticket.
“I ask the Jati Umra residents (the Sharifs) to not make mockery of themselves by indulging in such childish acts and also not ridicule me,” he said in a statement.
He asked the PMLN leadership to stop making excuses for not awarding him the party ticket.
Maryam Nawaz, who also appeared before the party’s parliamentary board at its sixth meeting for party ticket on Sunday, has filed nomination papers for two Lahore seats — NA-125 and NA-127 — while she is expected to file nomination papers for another NA seat from any other part of Punjab. “Maryam will contest either from NA-125 or NA-127. The NA-125 was previously NA-120 from where her mother, Kulsoom Nawaz, had won the by-polls in September last, but she will choose any one of the Lahore seats on a party survey report,” the insider said.
Hamza Shahbaz, son of Shahbaz Sharif, is likely to be awarded party ticket for one national seat and one provincial seat from Lahore.
Ex-interior minister Ahsan Iqbal will contest for an NA seat in Narowal. Former railways minister Saad Rafique announced that since his constituency had been divided into three (constituencies) he would file his nomination papers for two NA seats in Lahore. “Now I will file nomination papers for NA-129 and NA-131 (Lahore),” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2018