By-election to PP-26, Jhelum-III
Violation of ECP code as electioneering picks up
From Our Correspondent
JHELUM: Candidates and their supporters are openly violating the conduct of conduct introduced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) during the electioneering for the by-election to PP-26 (Jhelum-III).
All candidates are focusing on the ‘biradri’ system to muster the support of voters who, however, look least interested in the campaign. As a result, a very low turn out is expected in the by-poll. In all, five candidates are in the field. Muhammad Arif is contesting as a unanimous candidate of the PPP and the PML-Q. Raja Muhammad Afzal Khan, Ch Khadim Hussain, Raja Zafar Iqbal and Sufi Muhammad Aziz are independent candidates.
Surprisingly, the PML-N has left the seat open as Raja Afzal and Ch Khadim both belong to the party and have not accepted the order of the leaders to withdraw from the race. According to Punjab PML-N secretary general Raja Ashfaq Sarwar, it is the right of Ch Khadim to get party ticket as he is the father of Ch Nadeem Khadim who was disqualified for having dual nationality, leaving the seat vacant. He is of the view that it is the decision of Mian Nawaz Sharif to leave the seat open as Raja Afzal has refused to withdraw his nomination papers. Both the candidates belong to the PML-N and are now contesting as independent candidates. Raja Zafar, another independent candidate, is former secretary general of the PML-N district chapter.
On the other hand, PPP district president Ch Sohail Zafar had refused to accept Muhammad Arif of the PML-Q as a unanimous candidate and held a press conference against Adviser to Prime Minister Ch Fawad Hussain, saying that Arif does not belong to Jhelum and is a stranger to the PPP. He claimed that Ch Fawad had no right to interfere in the affairs of the PPP in the district. The PPP nominated Intisar Ahmed Khan as its candidate. However after a meeting of Deputy Prime Minister Ch Pervez Elahi with Faryal Talpur, the seat was given to the PML-Q and Muhammad Arif was declared a joint candidate.
Arif is fully supported by former district nazim Ch Farrukh Altaf and hoping better results. It is expected that main fight will be between Raja Afzal and Ch Khadim. However, a division in the PML-N voters will benefit Muhammad Arif of the PML-Q. PML-N former MNA Nawabzada Iqbal Mehdi, MPA Muhammad Fayyaz, party district secretary general Hafiz Ijaz Janjua are openly supporting Ch Khadim Hussain and canvassing for him in the areas of Darapur, Chotala and other areas of Pind Dadan Khan tehsil. Raja Afzal is supported by Jhelum former tehsil nazim Ch Ghulam Ahmed Zamurd. It is surprising that former nazim Malik Shaukat of the PPP is also supporting Raja Afzal.
The situation is very interesting as workers and voters of both the largest parties – PPP and PML-N – are directionless and confused. The PPP voters are not ready to give votes to the PML-Q candidate wholeheartedly, while the PML-N voters are totally confused as they have two candidates before them. The local as well central leaders are openly supporting Ch Khadim.
Adviser to Prime Minster Ch Fawad Hussain is leading processions in the constituency daily with the federal protocol. Ch Khadim Hussain, the independent candidate, is fully enjoying the protocol of the Punjab government through the local police and carrying armed guards with him during the processions and meetings. Huge banners, about 10-time bigger than the banners recommended by the ECP, have been displayed in favour of candidates across the city. There are total 123,515 voters, including 63,383 men and 60,132 women. The ECP has established 150 polling stations and 432 polling booths in the constituency.