MUZAFFARGARH: Political manoeuvring and strategic retreat have reached their peaked in the election ring in Muzaffargarh.

This happened on Sunday when independent candidate for NA-175 Ayub Qureshi announced supporting PML-N candidate Hammad Nawaz Tipu. Mr Qureshi, who had been working for election for the last four years, said he decided to support the PML-N candidate after a meeting with PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif. His withdrawal from the contest will benefit the PML-N candidate in the city areas, as in rural areas, PPP candidate Mehr Irshad Sial and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Jamshed Dasti look stronger. With this development, Mr Tipu, Mr Sial, and Mr Dasti are in a cut-throat competition. Earlier, Mr Sial was ahead of them, but Mr Tipu, with political maneuvering, and Mr Dasti, with his aggressive campaign, has made the contest a sight to see.

In NA-176, PPP’s Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmed Khan is poised to fight against PTI’s Nawabzada Ahmed Khan, and PML-N’s Basit Sultan Bukhari. PPP’s Nawabzada looks in a comfortable position after he won the support of former MPA Qaswar Langiral. The PTI candidate faces a vote split because of Mr Dasti’s campaign for his wife.

In NA-177, PTI candidate Sardar Moazam Khan Jatoi is the leading contender against PML-N’s Syeda Shehr Bano Bukhari, who is the daughter of Basit Bukhari. Mr Jatoi is making the most of the sympathy wave for the PTI.

In NA-178, PML-N candidate Amir Talal Gopang looks stronger than PTI candidate Sardar Daud Khan Jatoi.

What makes Mr Gopang stronger is his provincial assembly candidates under his NA constituency.

In NA-179, PTI candidate Mian Shabbir Ali Qureshi is holding big rallies after he came to the public after months of hiding in the wake of the May 9 riots. His rivals, PML-N’s Malik Ghulam Qasim Hinjra and PPP’s Amjad Abbas Qureshi, will have to make extra struggle to keep the competition alive. Mr Qureshi is taking the benefit of the elevation of Kot Addu from tehsil to district. This is what he promised in the last election as an independent candidate. After defeating former governor Mustafa Khar and PML-N’s Hinjra, he joined the PTI and was made a state minister.

In NA-180, PPP candidate Raza Rabbani Khar is facing PTI’s Fayyaz Chajra and PML-N’s Khaliq Khar. Mr Chajra is proving himself a hard nut for Raza Khar.

Since 2008, Muzaffargarh district has elected PPP candidates time and again. In 2008, the district saw the victory of PPP candidates on all five MNA seats. In 2013, the district elected one MNA, and in 2018, three MNAs were elected. Now, the district after bifurcation due to the creation of Kot Addu district, may elect PPP, PML-N, and PTI candidates.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2024

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