Lahore’s NA-131: Nawaz stands a good chance to make a comeback

Constituency and ca ndidates

LAHORE  -  With just two weeks remaining until the February 8 polls, the electoral landscape of Lahore is overwhelmingly influenced by the PML-N, featuring prominent members of the Sharif family and the party’s second-line leadership, all of whom have previously secured victories in the provincial capital. The PMLN supremo, Mian Nawaz Sharif, along with the party president, senior Vice-president Maryam Nawaz, and Vice-president Hamza Shehbaz, are participating in the elections from Lahore, a historic stronghold for the PML-N. Additionally, five key party figures— Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Sheikh Rohail Asghar, Rana Mohammad Afzal, and Rana Mubashir—are contesting from Lahore, all of whom have been successful candidates in the National Assembly from the city on multiple occasions.

Also, the PML-N will have an added advantage of all PTI can­didates not contesting from their party’s election symbol, “Bat” this time. In the 14 National As­sembly constituencies of Lahore, the PML-N has fielded its candi­dates in 12. Notably, NA-117 and NA-128 have been left open for IPP candidates, Aleem Khan and Awn Chaudhry, as part of a seat adjustment agreement.

An exception to this pattern is NA-127, where PPP chairman Bil­awal Bhutto Zardari is contesting against PML-N’s Deputy Secre­tary Ata Tarar. This marks Bila­wal’s first run for a national seat in Lahore, presenting a formida­ble challenge as he confronts the Sharifs in their political strong­hold. Despite the challenge, Bil­awal is likely to secure this seat, given the widespread support he has garnered from various politi­cal groups and the vigorous cam­paign he has launched in the city.

NA-130 

The PML-N supremo, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is trying to make a come­back in this constituency after a decade, having last contested here in the 2013 elections. His absence in the 2018 general elections re­sulted from a disqualification by the Supreme Court in 2017. Dr Yasmin Rashid of the PTI emerg­es as the major contender for the PML-N in this constituency. In the 2013 general elections, Mian Nawaz Sharif defeated her with a substantial margin of around 40,000 votes. Despite her chal­lenging Begum Kalsoon Nawaz in the 2017 by-elections and lat­er Waheed Alam in the 2018 gen­eral elections, she narrowly lost both contests. In the current elec­tion, Dr. Yasmin Rashid is running from jail without the PTI’s elec­tion symbol, “Bat.”

During the 2013 and subse­quent elections, Dr. Yasmin fo­cused her campaign on alleged corruption by the Sharif fami­ly, advocating for change in the country’s governance system through door-to-door canvass­ing. However, in the present sce­nario, Nawaz Sharif has received exoneration from the judicia­ry that had earlier declared him corrupt, barred him from elec­tions, and labeled him dishonest.

Nawaz Sharif initiated his first election rally in NA-130 last Tues­day, where he received a warm welcome from his supporters. His main rival, Dr. Yasmin Rashid, is currently in prison on allegations related to the May 9 incidents, but remains eligible to contest elec­tions. The PTI is leveraging social media for Dr. Yasmin’s election campaign, with party candidates from provincial seats actively canvassing on her behalf.

Other candidates in the running from NA-130 include Iqbal Ah­mad Khan of the PPP, Sufi Khale­equr Rehman Butt of JI, and Khu­rram Riaz of TLP, but they are considered less likely to pose a significant threat to Mian Nawaz Sharif. There is an eighty percent chance of Mian Nawaz Sharif win­ning this seat. This constituency encompasses some of Lahore’s oldest neighborhoods, including areas around the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri, a prominent Sufi saint from the 11th century.

NA-130 has historically been a stronghold for the PML-N, cover­ing localities such as Data Darbar, Sant Nagar, Temple Road, Mazang, Taxali Chowk, Mohini Road in Data Darbar area, Bilalganj, Amin Park, Makkah Road, Kasurpu­ra Chowk, Khokhar Town, Mulan Bakhsh Chowk, and the adjoin­ing areas of Mall Road up to Char­ing Cross. These are established neighborhoods equipped with all the necessary amenities for daily life. However, specific areas grap­ple with sewerage issues, and lo­cal small businesses are not gen­erating sufficient income for the residents. Unemployment and inflation remain as the primary concerns in this constituency.

Provincial constituencies

PP-173

The Punjab Assembly constit­uency, PP-173, is situated with­in NA-130. In the upcoming elec­tions, the PML-N has nominated Mian Marghoob Ahmad as its can­didate, who will be contesting against Zubair Niazi from the PTI. Mian Marghoob Ahmad previously served as a member of the Punjab Assembly from June 2013 to May 2018 and from August 2018 to January 2023. Additionally, he was a member of the National Assem­bly of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013. Zubair Niazi, a newcomer and the nephew of PTI founder Imran Khan, is considered to have limit­ed chances of victory in this elec­tion. Other contenders in the race include Syed Shahid Abbas Kazmi of the PPP, Mohammad Munir of JI, and Shehzad Yousaf of TLP; how­ever, they are not perceived as sig­nificant contenders. Notably, the IPP has not put forward any candi­date for this constituency.

PP-174

Bilal Yasin, representing the PML-N, is vying for the PP-174 seat. He held the position of a member of the Punjab Assem­bly from August 2018 to Janu­ary 2023 and was an MPA and former cabinet member from June 2013 to May 2018. His pri­mary contender is Ch Asghar Gujjar from the PTI, who was formerly associated with the PPP and served as the Lahore president for PPP during the tenure of the late Salman Ta­seer, former Punjab Governor. Despite having contested once for a provincial seat, Ch Asghar Gujjar has not been previously elected to the Punjab Assembly. Ameer Hamza of PPP, Moham­mad Amir of TLP, and Jabrab Bin Salman of JI are also partic­ipating in the race for PP-174.

Bilal Yasin who is closely relat­ed to late Begum Kalsoon Nawaz stands a strong chance of secur­ing victory in this constituency.