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PP-206: Mujtaba emerges favourite candidate

April 30, 2010

MULTAN, April 29 Differences among the key political families of Jalalpur Pirwala have favoured Pakistan People's Party (PPP) candidate for PP-206 by-election Syed Mujtaba Gilani, who is likely to get support of the leading figures of the area, Dawn has learnt.

The provincial assembly's seat fell vacant when member of Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) Naghma Mushtaq Lang resigned on April 7. Ms Lang's graduate degree was challenged by runner-up Malik Muhammad Akram Kanhoon. After her resignation, Ms Lang has been awarded ticket by the ruling PML-N for the election.

Mr Gilani, the younger brother of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who earlier failed to get the PPP ticket for NA-178 by-election, was nominated for the by-poll by the party's parliamentary board, led by PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.

The leading political figures of the area besides Ms Lang are former provincial minister Rana Qasim Noon and PML-Q MNA Dewan Ashiq Bukhari. So far, Noon and Dewan families have put their weight behind Mr Gilani.

Ms Lang is the widow of former MPA Malik Mushtaq Lang, who died in 2004 when he was Jalalpur Pirwala tehsil nazim. Ali Mushtaq, the son of Mushtaq Lang, died in a tragic accident in 2005.

In 2008 elections, the Dewan group and the Lang group, under the leadership of Dewan Ashiq Bukhari, contested against the Noon group, led by Qasim Noon.

The Dewan group fielded Ms Lang and Mehdi Abbas Langah for PP-206 and PP-205 and Dewan Ashiq Bukhari for NA-153, all on PML-Q tickets. All three candidates won their seats.

Qasim Noon, who had contested for NA-153 as independent candidate and lost the seat with a margin of just 1,000 votes, later joined the PML-N. When he saw Ms Lang would be the ultimate PML-N candidate in the by-election, Mr Noon met with the prime minister and announced joining the PPP.

Mr Bukhari who is still in the PML-Q has very close relations with Prime Minister Gilani. He reportedly contacted the PPP to get the ticket for his son Dewan Muhammad Abbas.

Later on, both Noon and Dewan groups agreed on the younger Gilani as candidate for the seat.

It is also expected that Mr Gilani would be elected unopposed if court disqualify Ms Lang because of her fake degree and the PML-N may not get any suitable candidate to face the PPP candidate.