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Lines are being drawn for the battle in Chakwal

March 28, 2013

CHAKWAL, March 27: Gone are the days when it was said that anyone on a Pakistan Muslim League-N ticket could win from Chakwal district.

The political scenario may have changed as the Pakistan Muslim League-Q has made inroads in one of the two National Assembly seats in Chakwal District and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has also acquired some heavy weights who may pose a challenge.

In NA 60, Sardar Ghulam Abbas, who has twice served as the district nazim, is gearing up to fight the general election as an independent candidate while in the second of the two Chakwal national seats, NA 61, Ch Parvez Elahi has carried out development work which has won him support.

The tough internal fight

But before the PML-N can gear up to face its political rivals, it has to figure out who will get the ticket – which some observers argue is going to be a tough call in NA 60.

Three heavyweight politicians have their eyes on the ticket for this seat which was last won by Ayaz Amir.

Among them are Ayaz Amir and Chaudhry Liaquat Ali who have been at loggerheads with each other for the last five years. Major (retired) Tahir Iqbal is also interested in the same seat as well as Lt Gen (retired) Abdul Qayum and Syed Aal-i-Imran.

The difficult decision is going to be made by the parliamentary committee headed by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, which has interviewed the ticket seekers.

So great is the friction between the jostling aspirants that at a recent meeting with the local PML-N leaders, PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told them, “You people should get united to meet the challenges ahead.”

Ayaz Amir won from NA 60 with a record number of votes – 125,437 – in 2008.

However, this time around it is not clear whether he would get the PML-N ticket. Apart from the reports of his alienation in the party, he has also irked the religious organizations within the area with his stand on issues such as blasphemy.

Dawn has learnt that three influential leaders of PML-N - Chaudhry Liaquat Ali, Malik Aslam Sethi and Gen (retired) Majeed Malik - are not in favour of Ayaz Amir.

Gen Majeed Malik, who has served as a federal minister under the PML-N, wants the ticket to go to Major (retired) Tahir Iqbal who served as a federal minister under the Musharraf regime. Malik Aslam Sethi is also supporting Iqbal.

Let Gen (retired) Abdul Qayum is also an aspirant for the ticket for NA 60.

In 2008, the PML-N benefited from the anti-Musharraf wave but even then the victories in both national constituencies were thin.

Ayaz Amir’s rival Sardar Nawab Khan, whose brother was the former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas, secured 91,255 votes.

NA 61 is not a walkover.

The situation in 61 is clearer as far as the ticket is concerned.

PML-N’s Sardar Faiz Tamman got 92,201 votes against Chaudhry Parvez Elahi who got 91,769 in NA 61. However, the former had to later resign from the seat.

He has now joined PTI. His uncle Sardar Mumtaz Tamman was elected as a PML-N MNA in NA 61’s by-election after Sardar Faiz Tamman vacated it in 2010.

For NA 61, Sardar Mumtaz Khan Tamman, Malik Saleem Iqbal, Advocate Malik Khushal Khan and Malik Shehryar have applied for the ticket and chances are that it might go to the previous winner.

But whoever wins the PML-N tickets for the constituencies may face a tough contest from rivals. This time around Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) can pose a threat to the PML-N in NA 60 as it too has got strong influentials in its ranks. These include industrialists such as Pir Shaukat Hussain Karooli, Raja Yassir Sarfaraz, Chaudhry Ali Nasir Bhatti and Maha Tareen Raja.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has also gained strength here due to the short stint of prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf who doled out millions of rupees to Raja Sana-ul-Haq (the elder brother of Raja Azeem-ul-Haq, who is married to Ashraf’s daughter) for development projects in the constituency.

The PMLQ is not far behind either.

It had lost ground in the district when Sardar Ghulam Abbas quit it, but it has since strengthened itself in NA 61 where development projects have been initiated on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Elahi, who is interested in contesting from here.

He lost by a narrow margin of less than a thousand votes from this seat in 2008 and has since won over many supporters by gimmicks such as gas connections to key villages. .

The provincial contest Similarly there are also a number of aspirants for the provincial seats.

Chaudhry Liaquat Ali, his son Chaudhry Haider Sultan and a new entrant in politics Sheikh Waqar Ali have applied for the ticket of PP 20. Malik Tanveer Aslam Sethi (the son of Malik Aslam Sethi) Mehvish Sultana, Raja Sajid Iqbal and Khalid Nawabi have applied for the ticket of PP 21.

Sardar Zulifqar Khan Dullha, Malik Khalid Tahi, Chaudhry Shahnawaz Amir (the son of Ayaz Amir) and Chaudhry Qasim Advocate sought the ticket of PP 22 while Malik Zahoor Anwar Awan, Malik Aftab and Malik Lal Khan have applied for the ticket of PP 23.