LAHORE – The PTI does not seem to pose a serious threat to the political might of the PML-N in Lahore as the party could manage only two potential winners for the National Assembly and three for the Punjab Assembly.
According to the unofficial list of the PTI candidates for the National Assembly, only two contenders including party chief Imran Khan, who is contesting from NA-122, and Zaheer Abbas or Karamat Khokhar for NA-128 appear to have the potential of defeating the PML-N candidates.
Similarly, only three PTI candidates for provincial metropolis seats of the Punjab Assembly -- Chaudhry Asghar Gujjar from PP-139, Ijaz Chaudhry from PP-148 and Mian Akram Usman from PP-149 can pose serious challenge to their opponents.
Veteran local political leaders talking to The Nation said that Mian Hamid Miraj from NA-123, Talib Sandhu from NA-130 and Barrister Hammad Azhar from NA-123 may get sizeable votes but not enough to defeat the former ruling party of the province.
They added that Talib Sandhu could benefit PPP’s Samina Khalid Ghurki in NA-130, as Sandhu would create dent in the vote bank of possible PML-N candidate, Ghulam Habib Awan from this constituency which comprises rural areas of Lahore and voting trends here are dictated by the clans residing in it, which include Awan, Jatt, Rajput and Ghurki. The Sandhu Jatts were formerly rallied behind Ghulam Habib Awan who returned to the Punjab Assembly from PP-158 in 2008.
Imran Khan, who is contesting from NA-122, had bagged 18,638 votes without launching a proper election campaign against the PML-N winning candidate Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who secured 37,531 ballots in 2002. The PTI under the banner of defunct All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) boycotted the 2008 elections.
The two Khokhars, Zaheer Abbas and his uncle Malik Karamat, are yet to decide who will contest from NA-128. However both of them would prove tough candidates against the PML-N nominee.
The constituency is inhabited mostly by the Khokhar clan and Khohars would face each other here. Afzal Khokhar was the former PML-N parliamentarian from this constituency, while Zaheer Abbas secured this seat in 2002.
Political pundits in PP-139, 148 and 149 opined that Mian Akram Usman contesting from PP-149 could emerge as the tough challenger to the PML-N, while Chaudhry Asghar Gujjar from PP-139 and Ijaz Chaudhry from PP-148 could only create some dent in the vote bank of the PML-N.
The PTI has still not decided the fate of the PP-153, 154, 160 and 161 due to the reservations of two party groups -- the ideological group and the unity group -- and expected to finalise it today.
According to local leaders, the PTI has a chance to challenge the PML-N in PP-154 and PP-160 if it fields Zaheer Abbas Khokhar and Malik Ashraf Bara from there.
PTI’s ideological group secured nominations for five of its candidates for National Assembly -- Dr Yasmin Rashid for NA-120, Barrister Hammad Azhar for NA-121, Hamid Khan for NA-125, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed for NA-126 and Zaheer Abbas Khokhar for NA-128.
The unity camp secured nominations for Mian Hamid Miraj in NA-123, Abdul Aleem Khan in NA-127, Mansha Sandhu in NA-129 and Talib Sandhu in NA-130.
The tsunami change group secured one nomination in the name of Waleed Iqbal from NA-124. Hamid Zaman for NA-118 has not allied with any group, while Muhammad Madni for NA-119 secured the ticket being the leader of the youth.
The ideological camp secured nominations for 12 of its candidates for Lahore seats of Punjab Assembly, which include Yasir Gilani, PP-137, Asghar Gujjar, PP-139, Zubair Niazi, PP-140, Nawaz Natt, PP-141, Malik Waqar, PP-142, Atif Chaudhry, PP-143, Ijaz Chaudhry, PP-148, Mian Akram Usman, PP-149, Sheikh Imtiaz, PP-150, Dr Murad Raas, PP-152 Hafiz Farhat Abbas, PP-155 and Malik Nawaz Awan, PP-159.
The unity camp secured nominations in favour of Yameen Tipu, PP-144, Mian Iftikhar, PP-145, Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, PP-146, Aleem Khan, PP-147, Haji Fiaz, PP-151, Ahsan Rasheed, PP-156, Tahir Mayo, PP-158 and Hamid Sarwar, PP-157.
The party leaders of PP-143 believe that party has fair chance of giving the PML-N tough contest, if it awards ticket to veteran leader Malik Muhammad Asghar Khan, who enjoys respect and influence in this constituency, as Atif Chaudhry doesn’t belong to this constituency.
In protest against the controversial ticket allotment, leaders of the Insaf Lawyers Forum will set up protest camps in Lahore today.