–Khattar clan backs the PTI candidate in Taxila, Chakri
–PML-N’s Mumtaz up against political heavyweights in NA-63
TAXILA: A tough battle is expected between two former ministers – Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan – across Taxila and Adiala subdivisions which form NA-63 Rawalpindi-IV.
Chaudhry Nisar is trying his luck as an independent candidate and facing a challenge from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Ghulam Sarwar Khan who also defeated Nisar in the year 2013.
NA-63 is considered a stronghold of PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan as his Khattar clan dominates Pind Nousheri, which holds a key position for any election in Taxila and Chakri. Other major clans include Rajputs, Kashmiris, Syeds and Gujjars.
The total population of the constituency is 7,63,261 and the number of registered voters is 343,853.
Both Sarwar and Nisar have a history of acrimony and have been contesting against each other since the past two decades. Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who started his political career with the PPP, joined the PML-Q after winning the 2002 elections as an independent candidate.
With the nationwide rout of the PML-Q, Sarwar joined the PTI well before 2013 elections and is now considered a central leader of the party. To his credit, he has defeated Nisar from this constituency in years 2002 and 2013.
On the other hand, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claims to be the longest serving MNA of the country from this constituency who has been elected to the National Assembly from here in 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997 and 2008 elections. Vote difference between the two had varied between 10,000 and 20,000.
However, with the rise of PTI’s popularity and a solid vote bank in the constituency, Ghulam Sarwar’s camp seems to be confident about the final result on July 25.
The constituency, consisting of the semi-hilly and plain areas of Taxila and Wah, has its geopolitical significance. Taxila city has eight union councils of the constituency. Dhumial, situated near Rawalpindi Cantonment, is another part of the constituency which comprises rural areas where family affiliations have an impact on voter’s decisions.
PML-N NOT STRONG:
Although the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded Sardar Mumtaz Khan as its candidate for NA-63 to challenge Ch Nisar and Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the political observers consider Mumtaz as a weak contender to challenge the two strongmen.
Mumtaz is the PML-N’s leader in Rawalpindi district but he is largely indebted to Ch Nisar for being given the prime slot despite having little political background. During his 20-year political career, Mumtaz has never led an election campaign himself. Nisar has been able to win over some groups from the PML-N camp.
Nisar has parted ways with the PML-N, however, he still enjoys a strong political position and has a good following among major families in the area due to his development projects introduced in the area, including Wah General Hospital, which can boost his vote bank.
Another feather to be added to Nisar’s chances is his efforts to raise the salaries of the peasants and workers of Heavy Mechanical Complex which may attract some votes for him.
On the other hand, Sarwar is riding a high popularity wave across the area due to his presence in the constituency and his close association with the population. His strong Khattar clan also adds his advantage while his humble nature and strong contact with people at large make him an automatic choice of the electorate. PTI Chairman Imran Khan recently addressed a huge public gathering in Taxila which further boosted the vote bank of Sarwar Khan.
In the recent past, the electioneering campaign has attracted a heated debate as both Nisar and Sarwar have levelled allegations against each other. During corner meetings and jalsas, both leaders have accused each other of every bad thing in the world.
A new phenomenon is Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) whose voters may upset the applecart. The TLP supporters have received a good response but its candidates may not be able to win any of the national or provincial assembly seats.
The race for PP-19 Rawalpindi-XIV involves a cutthroat three-way contest between PTI’s Ammar Siddique Khan, Zeeshan Butt of PML-N and Umar Farooq of Ch Nisar’s group. Umar Farooq had won this seat in 2013 elections while Zeeshan Butt is A PML-N candidate whose family have a 34-year long relationship with Chaudhry Nisar. He was also chosen by Nisar for the first time in last year’s local government elections.
In PP-20 Rawalpindi-XV, PTI has fielded Malik Taimoor Masood Akbar who would face a tough competition from Chaudhry Nisar group’s nominee Faisal Iqbal and PML-N’s Raja Shiraz Asghar.
Raja Shiraz Asghar is a local businessman who has never held public office and does not have any significant community service background.
The candidates have steamed up their electioneering and electoral hustle bustle is picking momentum as the polling day is arriving. Despite the harsh and unpleasant weather, contrary to other cities of the country, electioneering is at its peak with the presence of political heavyweights as independent as well as contenders of different political parties have exhilarated their efforts to bag maximum seats.
The candidates from all political parties and groups along with their supporters are using banners and posters to publicise their slogans, flags, manifestos and sentiments.