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RAWALPINDI: The July 25 election brought tabdeeli (change) in Rawalpindi district which was earlier known as a stronghold of NawaSharif-leded Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). But the change was limited only to a few new faces as traditional politicians still managed to reach parliament.

The PTI won five out of the total seven National Assembly constituencies and the PPP managed to secure one seat from Gujar Khan while the PML-N was wiped out. Election on NA-60 was postponed.

However, out of the five PTI MNAs-elect, only two are new to parliament and senior workers of the party - PTI Punjab north President Amir Kiani from cantonment areas and Sadaqat Abbasi from Murree.

On the other hand, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who won from Rawalpindi city, was once associated with the PML-N and PML-Q and Ghulam Sarwar Khan was a former leader of the PPP and the PML-Q. Mr Sarwar has won two NA seats.

Traditional politicians such as Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Ghulam Sarwar Khan manage to win

In Punjab Assembly, Wasiq Qayyum and Umer Tanveer are old PTI workers while the rest of the MPAs-elect were associated with the PML-Q in the past. They include Raja Rashid Hafeez, Chaudhry Adnan, Ijaz Khan Jazi, Raja Basharat, Latasab Satti and Javed Kausar.

Most of the PML-Q leaders joined the PTI after losing the 2008 and 2013 elections.

PML-N disgruntled leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan won a provincial assembly seat but lost two NA seats to PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan.

Political anaylists are of the view that there were different issues in different constituencies which led to the defeat to the PML-N even though it had carried out development works.

They said the PML-N leaders had no direct contact with the voters in the past 10 years and even the party workers could not approach them.

They said development work was not any yardstick for success in an election. People also see programmes of a political party. Besides, voters have become mature and raise questions over the performance of their representatives.

During the last five years, the PML-N failed to solve electricity and gas loadshedding, inflation, unemployment, health and education issues and above all water crisis, especially in the Potohar region.

The PML-N, PPP and MMA claim that the elections were rigged. Local leaders are of the view that traditional politicians have come back to parliament despite the PTI’s claims that people voted for change.

“We carried out lots of development works in the city and the residents did not reject us as the PML-N managed to get more than 90,000 votes in all the constituencies but the results were changed,” PML-N City President Sardar Naseem told Dawn.

He said the metro bus service, flyovers, roads, schools, universities, water supply schemes, hospitals and other projects were completed by the PML-N in the past 10 years.

He said people supported Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz but the elections were rigged. “We had defeated the PML-Q in the past two elections but all its leaders made a comeback with the new face of the PTI. It is beyond our understanding,” he said.

PPP City President Babar Jadoon said rigging was the main reason otherwise the PPP or PML-N had won in Rawalpindi. “Raja Pervaiz Ashraf won from Gujar Khan and we could have won more seats but corruption cases rumours and a hostile environment were created against the PPP and the PML-N.”

He said he lost in a provincial assembly seat to an old leader of the PML-N who had joined the PTI. “Before the polls, an environment was created in favour of the PTI and no level-playing field was provided to other parties,” he said.

However, PTI City President Ijaz Khan Jazi was of the view that the previous government wasted public money on unnecessary projects which had nothing to do with the common man and it was the main reason for the defeat of the PML-N.

He said results of the July 25 polls in Rawalpindi suggested that voters had preferred ‘change’ over the old politics pursued by the PML-N.

But local workers of the PTI were of the view that mostly old faces in their party managed to reach parliament which would not bring any change in coming days.

A PTI leader requesting not to be named said there was no difference between traditional politicians and the newly-elected PTI members of parliament as the latter had served the PML-Q in the past and failed to deliver. He said the real change would come if old party workers of the PTI reached the parliament.

He said election on NA-60 was pending and if the party again gave the ticket to an old and traditional politician, the voters would not accept it. He said the party workers should be consulted before the award of the ticket.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018