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All-Jatt contest in Wazirabad

August 12, 2005

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GUJRANWALA, Aug 11: Politics in Wazirabad Tehsil has traditionally been dominated by two sub-casts of Jatts—Cheemas and Chattas—who have toppled each other in various electoral bouts in the past.

The town comprising 36 union councils has 358,279 registered voters.

Though Ghakkar, Alipur Chattha, Rasulnagar, Dhaunkel and Sadara are known areas of the town, Ahmadnagar remained centre of power politics mainly due to Chaudhry Salahuddin Chattha, father of Chaudhry Hamid Nasir Chattha, who held important portfolios like information minister and the National Assembly speaker in the past.

Chatta family is now in alliance with the ruling PML, while Mr Nasir’s son Fiaz Ahmad Chattha remained district nazim for the last four years.

However, Chattas’ monopoly in the tehsil’s politics was shattered by PPP when Maj Ghulam Haider Cheema (retired), father of Col Ghulam Sarwar Cheema, was elected MNA in 1970 general election. Later, his son Col Cheema became defence minister.

The Cheemas could not gain any considerable success in the previous local election, particularly for district nazim’s slot. G.S Cheema’s son Adnan Sarwar Cheema, who was an aspirant for district naib-nazim’s slot against the PPP-nominee Haji Gohar Zaman of Fiaz Chattha panel was defeated in the polls.

Chaudhry Shah Nawaz Cheema remained provincial minister, while Chaudhry Ijaz Saman was still an MPA. A PPP ticket-holder for the National Assembly, Ms Asima Shah Nawaz Cheema also put Mr Chattha in trouble in the last general election.

As regards the previous local body election, Chattha group gained maximum seats in the thesil and got elected its tehsil nazim, Chaudhry Shaukat Manzoor Cheema.

The upcoming local elections are a test for Chattha group as many of its old allies, including former MPA Shaukat Hayat Chattha, have joined the Peoples Democratic Front headed by PPP’s former provincial minister Chaudhry Shahnawaz Cheema.

The front has fielded strong candidates in each union council in the town against the Chattha group.

Though the former district nazim Fiaz Chattha and former tehsil nazim Chaudhry Shaukat Manzoor Cheema claim that they got completed various uplift projects in the tehsil, their rivals alleged that they had failed to resolve the problems of people regarding health, education, drinking water, cleanliness and sewerage system and even the roads were not constructed so far.

Fiaz Ahmad Chattha is again an aspirant for the district nazim seat.

Sources say Punjab government audit teams have raised objections on records in various union councils, which the nazims or naib nazims concerned have failed to get removed so far. Instead, they were busy campaigning for the upcoming polls. The source add that the government will take an action against the former nazims and their deputies following the local election.