Punjab will witness another day of by-polls today (Sunday) as polling will be held for three National Assembly and three Provincial Assembly seats in the province.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has also completed the arrangements for the by-polls in which 2,141,000 voters will use their right to vote in 6 constituencies. As many as 1434 polling stations will be established for 4598 polling booths. According to the ECP, 184 polling stations are highly sensitive while 192 are sensitive. More than 20,000 officials of police, Rangers and Pak Army will perform duties to ensure law and order in 6 constituencies. In two constituencies of National Assembly, Chairman PTI Imran Khan himself is the candidate against the joint candidates of PDM. It merits mention here that the former Prime Minister Imran Khan is contesting from 7 out of 8 constituencies of National Assembly in the by-polls being held in Punjab, KPK and Sindh.
In Punjab, the by-polls will be held in NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, NA 157 Multan, PP-139 Sheikhupura, PP 209 Khanewal and PP 241 Bahawalnagar. It is pertinent to mention here that all the three seats of National Assembly were earlier clinched by PTI in 2018 while all the three seats of Provincial Assembly were won by PML-N during the last general elections. The popularity of Imran Khan and his rigorous campaign since his ouster as the prime minister says that the PTI has an edge over PML-N in the by-polls scheduled today. He is addressing mammoth public gatherings in almost all parts of the country since the day he was removed in result of a no-trust motion against him in National Assembly in April this year. On the other day, the PDM seems helpless in countering the popularity wave of Imran Khan as it could win only 4 out of 20 seats of Punjab Assembly in the by-polls held in July this year. PTI clinched 15 seats while the PML-N could get only 4 seats and 1 independent later also joined the PML-N contrary to the expectations of political analysts. The by-polls held in July this year proved Imran Khan as the most popular leader of the country and today’s by-polls will be another test for his popularity. On the other hand, PML-N didn’t run a rigorous campaign for today’s by-polls as Maryam Nawaz left for London while Hamza Shehbaz is facing health issues and he is also confined to his residence. The campaign of PML-N was led by Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who addressed some political gatherings in the constituencies where the by-polls are being held.
In this constituency, the contest will be between PTI’s Imran Khan and PML-N’s Abid Sher Ali. All the parties of PDM are also backing the candidate of PML-N. The seat fell vacant after the resignation of former PTI minister Farukh Habib. In 2018, the seat was clinched by PTI’s Farukh Habib who defeated PML-N’s Abid Sher Ali with a margin of over 1000 votes. The unification of Sher Ali and Rana Sanaullah groups is a good sign for the PML-N in the constituency but the economic issues and rising inflation will go in favor of PTI at the time when Imran Khan himself is in the race.
NA-118 Nankana Sahib:
In NA-118, PML-N’s Dr Shazra Mansab will face PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The seat fell vacant after the resignation of former Interior Minister Brig (r) Ijaz Shah who became MNA from the constituency in 2018 for the first time. Dr Shazra Mansab has also served as MNA from the constituency before 2018. Just few days ago, Imran Khan addressed a large public gathering in the constituency and the chances of PTI are high in NA-118.
It will be the most interesting contest as the scions of two notable families of Multan are contesting against each other. Syed Ali Musa Gilani of PPP will contest against PTI’s Mehar Bano Qureshi. Musa is the son of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani while Mehar Bano is the daughter of PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi. It is the only constituency where Imran Khan isn’t the candidate himself. According to the political observers, it will be the closest contest today as stakes of both the families are high in Multan. It will also define the future politics of Multan. The seat was vacated after the resignation of Zain Qureshi who went to Provincial Assembly in July by-polls.
It was vacated after the resignation of Mian Jalil Ahmad Sharaqpuri who later joined the PTI during the days of Imran Khan’s popularity. The seat was clinched by Sharaqpuri in 2018 on the PML-N ticket. This time, his nephew Abu Bakar Sharaqpuri of PTI will contest against PML-N’s Iftikhar Bhangu who has also served as MPA in 90’s. Tough contest is likely in the constituency but PTI has a little edge over PML-N.
Faisal Niazi of PML-N clinched this seat in 2018 but later he resigned and joined the PTI just a few months ago. Now, Niazi is the candidate of the PTI who will face Zia ur Rehman of the PML-N.
This seat was also clinched by PML-N in 2018 but later its MPA Muhammad Kashif was disqualified. A close contest is likely between PML-N’s Aman Ullah Bajwa and PTI’s Muzaffar Awan. PML-N leader Bajwa’s brother is also a sitting MNA and therefore he has a little edge over the PTI.