–New delimitation to favour Rasheed as Abbasi clan reduced to Murree’s NA-57
–Withdrawal of candidature by MMA candidate leaves open space for TLP’s Qadeer
RAWALPINDI: Neck and neck fight is very much likely in Rawalpindi’s NA-60 between Awami Muslim League (AML) chief and outspoken politician Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) aspirant Hanif Abbasi.
The constituency, formerly known as NA-56, has been a traditionally secure seat for the PML-N leaders. However, it was won by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan himself during 2013 general elections.
Khan had decided to contest from Rawalpindi after a challenge thrown to him by Abbasi who had claimed he would defeat Khan in a manner that even his security bonds would be confiscated. Imran Khan had polled 80,425 votes against Abbasi who put up a brave fight managing 67,169 votes.
Raza Ahmed Shah of Jamat-e-Islami had got only 6,463 votes while Raja Israr Abbasi, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate, had bagged 4,089 votes.
After the new delimitation, the constituency has been renamed as NA-60 which comprises of Satellite Town, Chah Sultan, Dhok Khabba, Muslim Town, Dhok Kala Khan, Dhoke Paracha, Pindora, Gawal Mandi, parts of Rawalpindi Cantt, parts of Saddar and Rawalpindi Cantonment, Ayyub Park area, Shakrial, Gulzar-e-Quaid, Dhok Kashmirian, Gulistan Colony, almost all of Chaklala Cantonment including the airbase and all the housing schemes, Askari-I to Askari-VI, Gulzar-e-Quaid, Sadiqabad and Rehmatabad.
Pashtun voters are expected to outnumber the Abbasi clan as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has removed the possibility of ‘double votes’. In past, some members of the Abbasi clan had the ability to vote twice due to the duplication of their registered votes. They used to cast votes in Murree earlier in the day and come to Rawalpindi later to cast their votes due to the duplication issue.
However, the ECP has now removed duplicate votes and most of Abbasis have to cast their votes in their native areas, mostly falling under NA-57, Murree. This has reduced chances of Hanif Abbasi of winning the elections, according to experts.
MMA LEAVES OPEN SPACE FOR TLP:
In a surprise move, Qazi Jamil of Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has announced to withdraw his candidature due to his deteriorating health, leaving the ground open for Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) candidate Chaudhry Qadeer Ali to grab the religious vote bank.
Since PP-17 falls in the area of the family of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Qadeer may get a good number of votes to dent Hanif Abbasi’s vote bank.
BICKERING OVER TICKETS:
It is interesting to note that both PTI and AML local leaders have been bickering over the allocation of party tickets and hence both the parties have not been able to run the campaign together. Same goes for the PML-N whose local leaders have locked horns since the tickets allocation did not go down well.
While Sheikh Rasheed has been opposing the allocation of tickets in PTI for most of the Punjab Assembly seats falling under both NA-60 and NA-62, PTI’s parliamentary board has shrugged off his allegations. PTI has awarded tickets to Fayazul Hassan Chohan for PP-17 and Chaudhry Adnan for PP-11, both falling under NA-60.
Sheikh Rasheed had opposed PTI’s nominee for PP-17 Fayazul Hassan Chohan and openly expressed his dissent. Same goes for the PML-N where even a rapprochement meeting between Hanif Abbasi and Senator Chaudhry Tanvir could not help end their differences. The League leaders are angry over the allocation of tickets to both sons of Senator Tanvir. Barrister Danial has been awarded ticket for NA-62 while Usama Chaudhry has been given the ticket for PP-14.
It is pertinent to mention that PTI has withdrawn its candidates in NA-60 and NA-62 to accommodate the requests of Rasheed. However, its provincial candidates will still be contesting the polls.
Moreover, Rawalpindi Mayor Sardar Naseem and former MNA Shakil Awan have been opposing candidatures of Danial Chaudhry and Hanif Abbasi. They complained that while Hanif Abbasi is tainted due to Ephedrine case, Danial Chaudhry is an ‘imported character’ as he is not familiar to the voters of the constituency because of ‘being an outsider’.
The PML-N has allocated the ticket to Advocate Raja Hanif for PP-17 while Raja Arshad has been issued the ticket for PP-11. MMA has fielded Raza Ahmed Shah for PP-17. A good fight is expected between Raja Hanif and Fayaz Chohan while Chaudhry Adnan may easily win against Raja Arshad.