LAHORE: A neck and neck competition is expected between two bigwigs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the Lahore’s NA-130 National Assembly constituency next week.
A total of 10 candidates from different political parties and independents are in the race for this constituency. They include Amjad Masud (Independent), Hafizur Rehman (Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan), Khawaja Ahmed Hassan (PML-N), Saad bin Hassan (Independent), Shafqat Mehmood (PTI), Muhammad Abu Bakar (Pakistan Qaumi Yekjehti Party), Liaqat Baloch (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal), Muhammad Mumtaz Khalid (Pakistan People’s Party), Muhammad Yameen Awan (Pak Sarzameen Party) and Haron Khawaja (Pakistan Freedom Movement).
After the new delimitations, former NA-126 is now called NA-130 and mostly comprises of posh localities like Model Town, Model Town Extension, Gulberg, New Garden Town, Muslim Town, parts of Faisal Town, parts of Allama Iqbal Town, Ichhra, Wahdat Colony and Shadman.
People in these areas have basic amenities while some slum areas are also part of this constituency which lack basic facilities like clean drinking water and sanitation.
PTI stalwart Shafqat Mehmood defeated PML-N leader Khawaja Ahmad Hassaan in the 2013 elections by a narrow margin of around 7000 votes. It was the only national seat of National Assembly which the PTI clinched from the provincial capital in 2013.
In the2002 general elections, Liaquat Baloch was backed by the PML-N under seat adjustment and then defeated PPP’s Fakhar Zaman by a heavy margin of 30,000 votes.
The PTI was also successful in clinching two provincial assembly seats from PP-159 and PP-160, which fell under the jurisdiction of former NA-126 in 2013. PTI’s Murad Raas won from PP-159 and Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed won from PP-160 in 2013. All PTI leaders including PTI Chairman Imran Khan were defeated by the PML-N candidates in the 2013 general elections.
A real contest is expected between PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood and PML-N’s Khawaja Ahmed Hassan on the National Assembly seat, though Jamat-e-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch is also in the race from this constituency on MMA ticket for the third time.
Similarly, two provincial assembly seats falling under NA-130 see the 2013 winners again in the race. On PP-159, PTI’s Murad Raas is contesting against PML-N’s Tauseef Shah while on PP-160, PTI’s Mehmoodur Rashid is fighting against PML-N’s top leader from Lahore Hafiz Muhammad Nauman.
People in the area complained lack of development projects by the PML-N government during its rule. Unlike the rest of Lahore, they said, no major development projects were carried in these areas since the Member National Assembly (MNA) and Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) were from PTI. They also blamed lack of interest on the part of PTI Shafqat Mehmood, Murad Ras and Mehmood ur Rashid.
PML-N leader Khawaja Hassan took some interest in union councils where PML-N won in 2013.
Ahmed Ali from Model Town held both PTI and PML-N responsible for ignoring the area vis-à-vis development work.
“It is true that Shafqat Mehmood was in the opposition but at least, he could have maintained contact with the area people. Shafqat ignored the area soon after victory and did not even bother to visit. The PML-N also meted out step-motherly treatment to the area since it had lost from here,” he said, vowing not to vote for both the parties this time.
Rana Faisal from Ichra complained about a dearth of basic facilities and held primarily the PML-N responsible for the issues faced by the area. “It is true that Shafqat Mehmood from the PTI was elected from here but he was not in a position to get funds for the area,” he said.
On the other hand, the PTI candidate Murad Raas claimed that he focused on the constituency and even installed over 50 water filtration plants in Makka Colony and Nawaz Sharif Colony from his pocket for the welfare of the people. He alleged that PML-N undertook cosmetic and faulty development projects in developed areas like Muslim Town, Faisal Town and Garden Town in order to woo voters but ignored less developed areas where sewerage is the biggest problems and rainwater accumulates in the houses of the people.