LAHORE: The political landscape of Multan is abuzz with activity as the candidates from traditional political families, including some political heavyweights and veteran politicians, as well as the newcomers are vying for the support of the voters to secure their victory.

Multan district, with its six national and 12 provincial assembly seats, has become a battleground for political heavyweights. Prominent figures such as former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, IPP leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, Malik Aamir Dogar and Rana Mahmoodul Hassan are among those competing for seats. Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, another heavyweight who was also in the election race, has withdrawn from the election in support of a PTI-backed candidate.

Tareen, the patron-in-chief of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan (IPP), is contesting the election for the first time from NA-149 with the support of PML-N. The candidates of Sharifs’ party for PP-215 and PP-217 are also supporting Tareen as their own party didn’t field any candidates for the National Assembly seat. Other candidates for NA-149 include Rizwan Hans of PPP and Malik Aamir Dogar of the PTI after Hashmi quit the election in favour of the PTI-backed candidate.

Mr Dogar has won the seat twice. It’s his ancestral constituency as his uncle also remained an MNA while his father also contested election from this seat several times. Interestingly, the PTI was not permitted to contest the election and its candidates were not allotted their election symbol of bat. However, the party has released a list of candidates contesting as independents and has pledged its support for them in the election.

Gilani, Qureshi, Tareen in the race; PPP to benefit from disgruntled PML-N leaders

The political dynamics took a turn when some politicians, including Rana Mehmoodul Hassan, Wasif Mazhar Raan, Rana Tahir Shabbir and Rana Iqbal Siraj, were denied tickets by their parties due to the PML-N’s seat adjustment with the IPP and the PTI local leaders supporting the no-confidence movement during the last government. These politicians subsequently changed their party affiliations after 30 years of association.

The PPP has emerged as the top beneficiary of the situation,

winning the support of candidates who were not given tickets by their former parties. Mr Gilani has got the support of Rana Mehmoodul Hassan who is contesting election of national assembly from NA-150 and two former MPAs Wasif Mazhar Raan and Rana Iqbal Siraj besides Rana Tahir Shabbir in PP-219, PP-220 and PP-222, respectively.

The key candidates for NA-148 include Yusuf Raza Gilani (PPP), Ahmad Hussain Dehar (PML-N) and Barrister Taimur Altaf Mahay supported by the PTI.

Rizwan Hans of the PPP, Jahangir Tareen of the IPP, supported by PMLN, and Malik Aamir Dogar of the PTI are in contest for NA-149.

Rana Mehmoodul Hassan (PPP), Javed Ansari (PML-N) and Zain Qureshi (PTI) are contesting for NA-150.

Abdul Ghafar Dogar (PML-N), Ali Musa Gillani (PPP), Meher Bano Qureshi (PTI) are the candidates from NA-151 election.

From NA-152 (Shujaabad), the prominent candidates include Javed Ali Shah (PML-N), Abdul Qadir Gillani (PPP) and Imran Shoukat Khan (PTI).

From NA-153 (Jalalpur), Rana Qasim Noon (PML-N), Dr Riaz Lang (PTI), Hamid Ali Bhatti (PPP), Dewan Ashiq Bukhari (independent) and Qasim Abbas Langah (independent) are in the race.

Local political analyst and chief editor of Daily Baithak Multan Abdul Sattar Baloch does not rule out the possibility of the PTI-backed candidates’ victory. He thinks that there are certain PTI-backed candidates in Multan who have been allowed to run campaigns unlike other members of their party. He says the PTI workers were being reorganised and they are running the campaign of party-backed candidates more aggressively

compared to any other political party while PTI women wing workers are more active as compared to their male colleagues.

Other local analysts say the PML-N is facing internal party differences in Multan and old workers and ticket holders have either left the party or they are not campaigning for its candidates. The PPP is improving its position which is evident from the fact that PML-N’s disgruntled workers–two former MPAs and one MNA– have joined the PPP.

The PML-N old workers and ticket holders are of the view that Salman Naeem of PP-218 has hijacked the party and he is playing a negative role as he had opposed ticket to Rana Mehmoodul Hassan for NA-150 and former provincial minister Chaudhry Abdul Waheed Arain, says Baloch who adds that Javed Ansari was given a PML-N ticket for NA-150 on the recommendation of Naeem.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2024

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