The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf are vying for all the four National Assembly seats in Kasur and nine of the provincial legislature while the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal seem to be out of contention.
Kasur district has always been a bastion of the politics of biradari and factionalism. So all major parties have awarded tickets to old, trusted hands instead of trying to induct new blood.
Political analysts say that national issues and party manifestos have never had any impact on electioneering and results in Kasur.
Candidates of all parties are trying to attract voters with promises to improve the sewerage system, build new roads and carry out other development works.
A glance at a list of candidates makes it clear that political parties do not pick candidates on the basis of an individual’s long association or loyalty. Instead, they prefer ability to win elections over mundane qualities like integrity and commitment.
This is why a large number of candidates are running as independents against nominees of their own party.
Both the PML-N and PTI are facing revolt over the distribution of tickets.
In NA-137, for example, Sardar Asseff Ahmed Ali, a former foreign minister during the PPP government, is holding the PTI banner in the July 25 elections. His rivals are PML-N’s Saad Waseem and Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed of the PPP.
Aseff Ahmed Ali has to contend with the wrath of Mehar Saleem, a former president of the district bar association, as he failed to land a PTI ticket.
Saad Waseem had been in competition with Malik Muhammad Rasheed for the PML-N ticket, but the party later named Rasheed for NA-138, where he annoyed a former MNA, Suleman Hanif.
In NA-137 Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed is facing opposition from Nasira Mayo, the Punjab vice president of the PPP’s women’s wing who did not get the party ticket. Nasira Mayo is hoping to bag the Mewati clan votes. Five independent candidates of the clan are also contesting in PP-175, a sub constituency of NA-137. As Sardar Aseff and Chaudhry Manzoor are from the same clan, it is feared they would divide the vote.
The Ansari factor
All the parties banked on Ansari candidates in PP-174, a Punjab Assembly constituency overlapping with NA-137, as the community has almost 70,000 votes. The Ansaris have always managed to get their man elected as MPA with a wide margin.
But the community stands divided now and four political parties — PTI, PML-N, PPP and Tehreek-i-Labbaik — have set their sights on filling their shoes.
In PP-175, Malik Ahmed Saeed of the PML-N faces former PML-N MPA Nadeem Yaqoob Seithi.
In NA-138, Malik Rasheed Ahmed of the PML-N is facing opposition from inside his own party.
Meanwhile, Bukhtiar Kasuri, a member of the PTI’s core committee, recently announced support for PML-N’s Dawood Quraishi, Saad Waseem, Naeem Safdar, Ahsan Raza, and Rana Muhammad Ishaq.
He decided to support PML-N’s former MPA Anees Quraishi, father of Dawood, in PP-177. Kasuri himself was an aspirant for a PTI ticket in NA-138, but his application was turned down.
A former MNA, Rana Muhammad Ishaq, is tough competition to PTI’s Azeemudin Zahid Lakhvi, son of Moeenudin Lakvi, a religious figure, in NA-139. He enjoys the support of UC chairmen, his Rajput clan and claims that he had carried out development works in his constituency.
In the last general election, the Rana family emerged as the strongest family in the district by securing two NA and one PP seat. A former speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, is facing the opposition of his Rajput clan this time as two of his close relatives are in the race against him.
On the other hand, PTI candidate Lakhvi was recently assured of the support of the Milli Muslim League and Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed as both belong to the same sect. He is also likely to bag the vote of the Deoband sect.
The PTI’s candidates for the Punjab Assembly, retired colonel Hashim (PP-177), Pir Mukhtar Ahmed (PP-178) and Javid Ashiq Dogar, according to political analysts, will get the votes of religious elements as well.
Former foreign minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri has quit local politics and is not taking part in elections this time. He is credited with persuading a large number of politicians, particularly from the PPP, to join the PTI.
Pundits believe that Bukhtiar Kasuri is fighting a battle for survival. They say that he favoured PML-N candidates only because all his favoured factions were supporters of that party. Moreover, he is opposing the PTI for not awarding him a ticket for NA-138. So, they say, Kasuri is killing two birds with one stone.
In Na-140, two traditional political rivals, Rana Muhammad Hayat and Sardar Talib Nakai, are in the arena. Rana Hayat is representing the PML-N while Talib Nakai is a PTI candidate.
Talib Nakai is the son-in-law of former Punjab chief minister Sardar Arif Nakai while Hayat is the cousin of former PA speaker Rana Iqbal.
Both Hayat and Nakai have the support of tribes and clans in the constituency and have been in the business for decades.
Both families had been on opposite sides most of the time and secured coveted positions whenever their parties were in power. And irrespective of their parties, these strong groups never let any third group flourish in local politics.
According to analysts, no third party is strong enough to cash in on the infighting dogging the PML-N and PTI.
Although major political figures in the district are switching their loyalties, deliverance from abominations like sectarianism and factionalism is not in sight.
Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018