TOBA TEK SINGH: A couple, both seasoned politicians, Syeda Abida Hussain and Syed Fakhar Imam, with significant political influence in Jhang and Khanewal districts, are refraining from contesting the Feb 8 election.

Ms Hussain, who served as an MPA, Jhang district council chairperson, and thrice as an MNA, contested an election in 1990. In that election, she defeated the late founder of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ), Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Following her inclusion in the killing-list of Shias by the religious extremist LeJ, she resigned from the MNA slot. The then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appointed her as the ambassador to the US. She skipped the 1993 election and fielded her mother, Kishwar Abid Hussain. Since then, she has not contested any election. In 1997, she won the NA seat and became a federal minister. In 2002 and 2008, she lost the elections.

However, her son, Syed Abid Imam, ran for the Jhang NA 97 seat on a PPP ticket in 2013, securing the third position. The winner and runner-up were Ghulam Muhammad Lali of the PML-N and Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, independent candidate.

Her daughter Syeda Sughra Imam entered politics in 1998 and was elected as Jhang district council chairperson. In 2009, she became an MPA from Jhang on a PPP ticket and served as a provincial minister. She was also elected as a PPP Senator in 2015. While she initially filed her nomination papers for the Feb 8 election from Jhang’s NA-109 as an independent candidate, she later decided not to contest, citing personal reasons. She stated that she would remain neutral in this election.

Mr Imam, Abida’s spouse, served as the Multan district council chairman and was elected as an MNA in four elections from 1985 to 2018. He held the position of the National Assembly speaker and served as a federal minister in various departments. Although he won the last MNA election from Khanewal as an independent candidate and later joined the PTI, he decided not to contest the Feb 8 polls. Instead, he has fielded his son, Syed Abid Imam, as an independent candidate from Khanewal NA 144.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2024

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