MULTAN, Oct 7: Central and provincial leaders of various political parties belonging to southern Punjab have confined themselves to their own constituencies instead of looking after the electioneering of their respective organizations.
The leaders are either candidates themselves or are canvassing for their kith and kin. Prominent among them are Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khosa, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Begum Tehmina Daultana, Syed Fakhar Imam and Taj Langah.
The ARD chief and head of Pakistan Democratic Party, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, has been encamped at his native Khangarh village in Muzaffargarh district for the past several weeks. Disqualified from contesting the election due to the graduation condition, he has fielded his relatives in areas under his influence.
His son Ibrar Ahmed Khan is vying for NA-179 (Muzaffargarh-IV), his nephew Sultan Ahmed Khan for NA-178 (Muzaffargarh-III), his grand-daughter Sunnia Mansoor for PP-256 (Muzaffargarh-VI) and his nephew Mohammad Ahmed Khan for PP-257 (Muzaffargarh-VII) on PDP tickets.
Nawabzada lost his home constituency to PML-N’s Ata Mohammad Qureshi in 1997. His associates told this scribe that the veteran politician was staying home as he did not want to see anything like that happening again. Moreover, the candidates from his family wanted him home as a source of strength.
Punjab PML-N president former governor Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa was also disqualified from election due to the graduation condition. His son, former Dera Ghazi Khan district council chairman Saifuddin Khosa, is in the arena for PP-244 and PP-246 (DG Khan-V and VII) on PML-N tickets. Mr Saifuddin faces a difficult challenge in both the constituencies, from Sardar Alam Khan Khitran (PPP) and Yousaf Leghari (NA) respectively.
Therefore, the son wants full involvement of the father in his election campaign to ensure his success, specially in PP-244 which is a totally urban constituency. In the absence of Sharifs (exiled) and Javed Hashmi (incarcerated), the PML-N candidates in Punjab looking towards their provincial chief for strength were thoroughly disappointed.
PPP central deputy secretary-general, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, is a candidate for NA-148 (Multan-I). Due to the imprisonment of Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, Shah Mehmood was the only PPP stalwart who could have given a boost to his party’s quest for power in southern Punjab.
However, he has been so totally preoccupied with his own contest against the incarcerated Mr Hashmi that he did not even attend the two important public meetings in Multan, which were attended by Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Naheed Khan.
PML-N central vice-president Begum Tehmina Daultana is another example of this self-centred style of electioneering. She has confined herself to Vehari, where she is contesting for NA-168 and NA-169.
PML-QA stalwart Syed Fakhar Imam has also been hanging around Kabirwala and Mian Channu for his personal campaign. He is vying for NA-156 and NA-158 in the Khanewal district.
Pakistan Seraiki Party chief Barrister Taj Mohammad Langah is perhaps the only candidate in the country who is contesting four NA seats — NA-149 (Multan-I), NA-154 (Lodhran-I), NA-155 (Lodhran-II) and NA-183 (Bahawalpur-I). However, he is focusing more on a propaganda campaign through hurriedly arranged press conferences rather than electioneering.
Millat Party chief Sardar Farooq Leghari is the soul exception to this trend, as he has been able to find time to campaign for his party’s candidates in other parts of the country despite the fact that his own contest back home at NA-172 (DG Khan-II) has been no smooth sailing contrary to his expectations.
His nephew, Mohammad Khan, son of former provincial minister Maqsood Leghari, is pitched against him as an independent candidate with the backing of tribal rival Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa.