By Qamar Jabbar
he centuries' old city Lahore is the heart of Pakistan - its cultural capital and the origin of every successful political movement in the country. The Chaudhrys, the Sharifs, Imran Khan and the Jamaat-e-Islami are all based here. Legendry opposition politician Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan led opposition movements throughout his political career with the support of brave Lahoris. Although the Sharifs tried to give it a Kashmiri and Arain look, its settlers belong to all parts of Pakistan, all lingual and ethnic groups, all tribal and religious entities and all economic groups. Although its Ravi River is no more, its ground waters are sweet enough to keep its “zinda dilan” melodious. There are a total of 13 national and 25 provincial constituencies in Lahore district, of which eight are purely urban and three partially rural. In urban Lahore, Arains and Kashmiris are the leading clans but Sheikhs, Jutts, Kambohs and Syeds keep getting their presence registered in every election. In 2002, the PML-Q could obtain only two national seats from Lahore. Seven went to the MMA-PML-N alliance, three to the PPP and one to the Pakistan Awami Tehrik. This time, the battle is tripartite between the PPP, the PML-N and the PML-Q.
This is Nawaz Sharif’s traditional constituency, as he has never lost it since 1985. Nawaz has now fielded his 2002 MPA and close relative, Bilal Yasin against Khwaja Tahir Zia of the PML-Q and Jehangir Badr of the PPP. Tahir is the younger brother of Lt Gen Tauqir Zia who has just recently joined the PPP but has not been awarded ticket from anywhere. Tahir also served as chairman Punjab Baitul Maal during Nawaz Sharif's 1997 government. Bilal has served as vice chairman of WASA, Lahore.
NA-124, Hamayun is also contesting for this seat. The Pakistan People’s Party and the PML-N are going to challenge him by fielding Muhammad Navid Chaudhry and Khwaja Saad Rafique, respectively. Navid is former information secretary of Pakistan People’s Party Punjab. He lost NA-119 in 2002. This time he has
come here to try his luck.
Diyals and Ghurkis are once again ready to test each other’s muscles in this constituency on behalf of the PML-Q and the PPP, respectively. Now it is a matter of 22 days to see whether luck favours Diyals or Ghurkis. Earlier in 2002, Samina Khalid Ghurki had defeated Ejaz Diyal. This time Diyals have changed their candidate by putting their head, Ashiq, in the running. However, the PML-N’s Saadia Shabir is also very much here to challenge them. She is the niece of former District Council chairman Chaudhry Shaukat Ali. Samina’s husband Khalid Ghurki, her father-in-law Chaudhry Asghar and brothers-in-law, Arshad and Iqbal, have been elected to provincial and national assemblies on different occasions since 1985. Ashiq Diyal is also a former MNA and 2001 town nazim. This constituency also borders Pakistan and India and is dominated by Jutts, Arains and Rajputs.
PML-N has fielded its Lahore president, Mian Marghub Ahmad, against Aurangzeb Burki of the PPP and Mian Asif of the PML-Q. Earlier, PML-Q awarded its ticket to Ijazul Haq, but he has pulled himself out of this constituency. In 2002, the MMA's Farid Ahmad Paracha won this seat. Burki is Finance Secretary of PPP Punjab and a 2002 loser. In the 1988 and 1990, Jamaat-backed Mian Usman was elected as MNA from this constituency. However, in 1993 and 1997, the PML-N's Mian Munir grabbed this seat from Jamaat. Mian Marghoob was elected several times as councilor of Lahore Metropolitan and was elevated as Deputy Mayor in 1998.
This seat seems open for all three parties, as 2002 MNA Liaqat Baloch is no more in the run following the JI’s boycott of the elections. The PPP has launched a new face, Dr Hasnat Shah, against Sheikh Idrees of the PML-Q and Umer Suhail Zia Butt of the PML-N. Sheikh is former naib nazim of Nishtar Town. This constituency is the main target of all political parties, as Moonis Elahi, son of former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, is contesting from a corresponding provincial constituency. Umer Butt's father Suhail Zia is a close relative of the Sharifs and has remained with them in exile throughout the last seven years. Suhail is a former MPA. Dr Hasnat is an old party worker and is a close relative of PPP Senior Vice Chairman Yusaf Raza Gilani.
Mian Mohammad Azhar, who lost the 2002 elections from NA-118 and NA-132, is once again in the run on a Pakistan Muslim League Quaid ticket against Syed Asif Hashmi of the Pakistan People’s Party and Malik Riaz Ahmad of the PML-N. A 1990 governor of Punjab and 1997 MNA, Mian Azhar started his political career in 1987 as Lord Mayor of Lahore. He was the founding president of the PML-Q in 2000. Riaz is a close associate of Nawaz Sharif and a social worker. Asif Hashmi is related to President Pervez Musharraf’s Adviser Sharifuddin Pirzada by their children’s marriage. He made his entry in politics by being appointed as adviser to then governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar in the 1970s.
PML-Q’s Mian Jehangir, PML-N’s 2002 MNA Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq and Pakistan People’s Party’s Mian Umar Miabahur Rehman have challenged each other for this seat. Sadiq defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan and former Punjab Police IG Muhammad Amin Chaudhry of the PML-Q by a margin of 19,000 votes in 2002. Mian Jehangir is the younger brother of PML-Q Lahore President Mian Mohammad Munir. Umer is the son of PPP Lahore ex-president Mian Misbah.
Former Punjab minister Abdul Aleem Khan of the PML-Q, Naseer Ahmad Bhutta of the PML-N and Dr Muhammad Riaz of the PPP are in the running for this constituency. In 2002, Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri defeated Aleem Khan but later he resigned when he failed to get any prominence in the power structure, paving the way for the PML-Q’s Farooq Amjad Mir. Now, Mir has been dropped due to his differences with the party leadership. However, he is hopeful on his own as an independent. The PPP’s Dr Riaz is simply a political worker and has been picked up from a corresponding union council nazimship to contest the national elections. This constituency is mostly rural with a large population of farmers. Most of the urban population of the area is settled in katchi abadis and slums.
Former Allama Iqbal Town Nazim Sardar Aaqal Umar of the PML-Q, Afzal Khokhar of the PML-N and Malik Karamat Khokar of the PPP are contesting against each other. Gujjars, Bhattis, Khokhars, Jutts, Dogars and Arains dominate the constituency. The PML-Q candidate is the brother of sitting Allama Iqbal Town Nazim Sardar Kamil Omer and former town nazim Sardar Adil Umar. In 2002, the PPP’s Zaheer Khokhar defeated Sardar Kamil. Zaheer was then fielded by his uncle, Karamat Khokhar, whom he ditched by joining
PPP-Patriots. Zaheer is no more in the contest.
The main contest will take place between PML-N Senior Vice President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, PPP Lahore President Haji Azizur Rehman Chann and the PML-Q’s Mian Akhlaque Guddu. However, the PML-N’s Zaeem Qadari is trying to get Hashmi’s ticket changed in his favour. Hashmi won from here in 2002 but has been out of touch with his constituency because he was jailed for most of the last five years. Most NA-123 localities are under-developed. Guddu belongs to the Arain family of Baghbanpura. Earlier, he supported the PPP but he changed his loyalties in 2005 to make his wife town nazim.
After the disqualification of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza has jumped into the field against Tariq Badruddin Banday of the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam and Zikriya Butt of the Pakistan People’s Party. All three candidates are Kashmiris. In 2002, PML-N stalwart Khawaja Saad Rafique was elected from here by defeating PPP Secretary General Jehangir Badar. It is Hamza’s first entry in electoral politics. Banday was first elected to the National Assembly on a
PML-N ticket in 1997 but was defeated by the MMA’s Liaqat Baloch in NA-126 in 2002. Butt is Information Secretary of PPP Lahore. He got prominence as a political worker during MRD’s 1983 movement. Like Hamza, this one is his first electoral battle. Major communities settled in this constituency are the Arains, the Jutts, the Kashmiris and the Syeds who play a decisive role in success or defeat of a candidate.
It’s 2002 winner and General Pervez Musharraf’s villain Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan has withdrawn his nomination papers after being trapped in a situation created by colleagues who have no constituency to claim. Earlier, Nawaz had declared he would not field his candidate against him. Now, after Aitzaz’s withdrawal from the election race, Nawaz has given the go-ahead to Sheikh Rohail Asghar against former federal minister Humayun Akhtar Khan of the PML-Q. Earlier, Aitzaz had won this seat for the PPP thrice in 1988, 1990 and 2002. Although new in this area, Humayun has been consistently representing Lahoris in the National Assembly since 1990. A MPA twice-over, Rohail’s father Sh Asghar and his brother Sh Shakeel have also been in the Punjab Assembly.
Former MNA Habibullah Warraich of the PML-Q is contesting from this constituency once again against Tariq Shabir of the PPP and Sardar Adil Umar, who has recently joined the PML-N after quitting the PPP. This area has sent Warraich several times to either the Punjab or National Assembly. His challenger, Umar, was elected as Allama Iqbal Town nazim in 2001 on a PML-Q ticket, but in 2005 he joined the PPP. He is also the brother of Sardar Kamil Umar, nazim Allama Iqbal Town, and the PMl-Q candidate for NA-128, Sardar Aqil Umar. Tariq belongs to the Mayo clan. His father is an old PPP worker, but he does not possess a graduate degree. That is why he has launched his son in his place. Stretched along the Pak-India border, 90 percent of this constituency consists of rural Lahore. The Jutts, Arains, Rajputs, Gujjars, Mayos and Awans are prominent clans over here.