- Saad Rafique to contest against Imran Khan, Maryam Nawaz pitted against Yasmin Rashid in Lahore
- Sheikh Waqas Akram refuses to contest from NA-115, says will contest polls independently
LAHORE: Days after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced its election candidates, the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday awarded tickets to candidates in Punjab for national and provincial assembly seats without making amends with the disgruntled party leaders.
The party witnessed major rifts recently with major concerns expressed by former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and other prominent leaders like Zaeem Hussain Qadri and Sheikh Waqas Akram.
The nominations of PML-N candidates for July 25 elections were announced by party president and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif through his Twitter account.
The party has reportedly decided not to field its candidates against Chaudhry Nisar in NA-59 and NA-63, with reports making rounds that the PML-N leadership is mulling over resolving differences with the former interior minister. Reportedly, the party leadership is also considering awarding Nisar tickets for two national assembly and four provincial assembly seats.
The PML-N will be facing the main rivalry from PTI in Punjab.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif will contest the upcoming polls from NA-132 and NA-192, besides also contesting from two provincial assembly constituencies PP-164 and PP-165. In NA-132, his major rival will be PTI’s Chaudhry Mansha Sandhu, while in NA-192 the showdown will be with Sardar Muhammad Khan Leghari.
In PP-164, PTI has not yet finalised its candidate, however, Muhammad Yousuf has been fielded in PP-165.
The PML-N has decided to field former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz against PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid in NA-125. Earlier, it was being reported that Maryam Nawaz will contest election from NA-127 against PTI’s Jamshed Iqbal.
Besides contesting from NA-125, Maryam is also poised to contest in PP-173 where PTI has placed Malik Sarfraz Khokhar as its candidate.
According to sources, Maryam is contesting from PP-173 on the request of former MNA Malik Afzal Khokhar and former MPA Malik Saiful Malook Khokhar, as both the brothers succeeded in getting elected from same electoral areas in 2013 elections.
Moreover, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbas has been awarded ticket from his home constituency NA-57 to contest against PTI’s Sadaqat Ali Abbasi.
Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah is contesting for a National Assembly seat this time around and has been awarded a ticket for NA-106, and one provincial assembly seat PP-113 Faisalabad, which falls under Abid Sher Ali’s NA-108 constituency. In NA-106, Sanaullah will be taking on PTI’s Nisar Ahmad while in PP-113, PTI’s Nisar Jutt will be his main rival.
Against PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s two National Assembly constituencies in Punjab – NA-95 and NA-131 – PML-N has fielded Obaidullah Shadi Khail and former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, respectively. Saad Rafique will also contest from PP-168, where PTI has not announced a candidate so far.
Shehbaz’s son Hamza Shehbaz will be contesting the upcoming polls from Lahore’s NA-124 constituency against PTI’s Muhammad Nauman Qaiser. After the recent delimitation, most of the electoral area of NA-124 remains the same as it was of NA-119 during general election 2013 where Hamza was the winner.
Former federal minister Daniyal Aziz has been awarded National Assembly tickets for NA-77. Daniyal will lock horns with PTI’s Mian Muhammad Rasheed.
PML-N heavyweight and former National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has been fielded in NA-129 where Aleem Khan of PTI will be the major opponent. Ayaz Sadiq has been on a winning streak from this constituency, defeating PTI Chairman Imran Khan in 2013 and then Aleem Khan in the by-poll of 2015.
In Narowal, former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal will be taking on PTI’s Abrarul Haq in the NA-78 constituency.
A major blow suffered by PML-N recently was of Zaeem Hussain Qadri, who decided to contest elections as an independent candidate after the party leadership ignored him and awarded ticket of NA-133 to Waheed Alam Khan. Qadri had recently expressed anguish in a furious press conference, saying that he was not going to be a slave of Hamza Shehbaz.
Furthermore, another important PML-N leader, Sheikh Waqas Akram, has decided to contest polls as an independent candidate despite having been awarded a ticket for NA-115 from Jhang against PTI’s Ghulam Bibi Bharwarna. Akram had already told the PML-N leadership that he was not ready to contest from this constituency but the party decided to do otherwise.
Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, a former leader of PML-N who parted ways with the party and joined PTI last month, is considered one of the most powerful candidates from Jhang, justifying Akram’s hesitation to contest against her.
Jhang has three NA constituencies – NA-114, NA-115 and NA-116. Out of the three, however, the PML-N has considered only a single candidate from NA-115 and after Waqas Akram’s decision of contesting independently, the party may go into hot waters in this district.
Meanwhile, Rana brothers of Sheikhupura have succeeded in grabbing two tickets. Both Rana Tanvir Hussain and Rana Afzal will be contesting the election.
PTI’s Rahat Amanullah Bhatti will oppose Rana Afzal while Rana Tanvir will face Ali Asghar Manda.
The complete list of PML-N nominees from Punjab can be viewed here: