RAWALPINDI: As the PML-N is set to get the office of the vice-president of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board with no difficulty, it will have to make political manouvers to get the office in the adjacent Chaklala Cantonment.

The role of an independent member and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) has acquired significance because of the parties position after the Sept 12 elections in 10 wards of Chaklala Cantonment.

The PML-N with five seats and PTI with two seats in hand, may try to rope in JI. After oath taking of 10 elected members, the election commission will announce election of two special seats including for minority and labour; these 10 members will elect the two members and all of them will then elect the vice president.

On Sept 12, out of total 10 wards, PMl-N won five seats, JI and PTI won two seats each and one independent candidate returned successful. Being the largest party, PML-N has started work to convince JI to support it to get the highest civilian seat in the cantonment, while the ruling PTI is also trying to rope in the independent candidate and JI, in order to make its number equal to the PML-N.

In the last election in 2015, PML-N won nine seats and JI won one seat whereas the PTI failed to get any seats in the local government election in Chaklala; it was a smooth sail for the PML-N to elect its own vice president and it chose Raja Irfan Imtiaz for the slot.

However, things are different for the PML-N now. Even though, it has five seats, it needs the support of JI and the independent candidate to get the lead in the cantonment board.

According to political observers, residents of cantonment have snubbed the ruling party in the local government elections.

However, they added that the ruling PTI will not accept defeat and may try not to give the top civilian slot in the cantonment board to the PML-N as this will affect their narrative in the next local government elections in Punjab.

The JI and independent candidate will play the role of “king maker” in the cantonment board, they said, adding if PML-N tries, it could get the main slot along with minority and labour slots.

Chaklala Cantonment Board’s (CCB) former vice president Raja Irfan Imtiaz who has been elected member told Dawn that the PML-N contacted JI to elicit its support for the vice president seat. He said that the JI has sought time for the “offer” made by the PML-N. However, he did not disclose this offer made to the JI.

He said that PML-N won the seats due to its hard work in the past five years, adding, party members solved problems of people related to development (among others) besides increasing earnings of the civic body and did not rely on funding from the federal government.

JI (Rawalpindi chapter) spokesman Malik Azam confirmed that the PML-N had contacted the party for support for the special seats and vice president slot. He said the ruling PTI also contacted JI for its support but the decision would be taken in Lahore after consultation with shura.

“We have sent the offers made by the two parties in return for their support to the JI leadership,” he said, adding members for the special seats will be elected first and the vice president will be elected later on.

He said that JI was not in a hurry as it would play its cards after observing the political narrative in other parts of the country. “We asked them to wait,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021

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