MUZAFFARGARH: Three families are contesting elections against each other in three constituencies in Muzaffargarh district.

In NA-176, the two sons of the late Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan -- Nawabzada Mansoor Khan (as an independent candidate) and Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmad (as a PPP candidate) – are in the run. On the other side, in NA-177, PML-N candidate Syeda Shehr Bano Bukhari, daughter of the former MNA Basit Sultan Bukhari, is contesting against her uncle, Syed Haroon Sultan Bukhari, a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F candidate. In NA-180, PPP candidate Raza Rabbani Khar is contesting against his brother, Malik Abdul Khaliq Khar, a PML-N candidate.

Voters say when they compared them, they remembered the PPP and PTI projects executed in Muzaffargarh. They say these families could not bear other candidates, and when another family’s candidate approached party leadership, these families stand united to oppose the ‘newcomers’.

During the campaign, these candidates often criticise rival party leadership but refrain from criticising each other because, at the end of the day, they are family members.

While the candidates do not create hostilities against each other, their supporters have to take care of their camps.

Malik Rizwan, of Khangarh and a supporter of Nawabzada Iftikhar, says he was close to Nawabzada Mansoor in the last general elections. Now, he supports Nawabzada Iftikhar but he cannot attend any rally of Nawabzada Mansoor because his brother would mind it.

In NA-180, PML-N candidate Khaliq Khar and his rival, PPP’s Raza Rabbani Khar, are banking on the services of their father, the late Ghulam Noor Rabbani Khar, for the constituency people. The late Rabbani Khar was extremely popular in the constituency and for this reason he won all but one election in the constituency since 1985.

Whatever he promised, the late Khar fulfilled it when it came to mega projects. Now, two brothers are contesting against each other, and both candidates try to convince voters by detailing the projects their father had managed for the area. One such project is the brick lining of the Muzaffargarh canal which converted 400,000 acres of waterlogged land into fertile farms, bringing prosperity and happiness to the people. Similarly, he arranged gas supply projects for Mahmoodkot, Baseera, Qasba Gujrat and Sanawan towns. Raza Rabbani, however, adds that these projects were granted by the PPP government, and not the PML-N’s.

In nearby Kot Addu district, PTI candidates are taking credit for the implemented projects, transforming Kot Addu tehsil into a district and Chowk Sarwar Shaheed into a tehsil. They also established a mother-child hospital and a passport office in Kot Addu city.

Similarly, the Nawabzada are trying to cash in on the projects implemented by previous coalition and PTI governments.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2024

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