LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-N will have to go extra mile to maintain its winning streak from NA-125 (previous NA-120) with the emergence of the PTI as a potential rival from the constituency in recent years.
For the July 25 general elections, the PML-N panel comprised of three former MNAs, including Waheed Alam Khan, Mian Marghub Ahmed and Bilal Yasin, who are fielded from NA-125 and PP-149, PP-150 respectively. Waheed Alam Khan has been fielded by the PML-N from NA-125, which otherwise has been a constituency from where members of the Sharif family or those having close links with the PML-N top brass have contested.
Mian Marghub Ahmed, a former MNA of 2008, an MPA of 2013 by-poll is contesting from PP-149 whereas Bilal Yasin, former food minister, an MNA of 2008, the MPA of 2002, 2013 general elections is contesting from PP-150. Hafiz Salman Butt, who is the candidate of Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), another former MNA is in contest and in this way, four former MNAs are contesting from this seat.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, being the only strong contestant against the PML-N from the constituency, has come up with its die-hard activist Dr Yasmin Rashid from the NA seat whereas from the Provincial Assembly seats, the PTI candidates are Zubair Niazi (PP-149) and former Union Council Nazim as well as the former President of PPP Lahore Chaudhry Asghar Gujjar who has also contested from the same seat in 2002 and 2008 polls.
Asghar Gujjar joined PTI last year and is considered as a tough contestant for the PML-N with whom in 2002, he was very close to creating an upset.
The PPP, a party, which showed a good vote bank from the areas falling under current NA-125 till 2008, like many other constituencies of Lahore is on the verge of facing extinction from this area but somehow, it has found a candidate in form of Hafiz Zubair Kardar who was also its ticket holder in 2013 and got around 4,000 votes.
This constituency comprises of areas like Gawalmandi, Railway Road, Temple Road, Mozang, Fane Road, Ravi Road, Shafiqabad, Bagh Munshi Ladha, Sant Nagar, Islampura, Sanda, Krishan Nagar, Beadon Road, Bansawala Bazaar, Shah Alam Market Chowk, Circular Road, Chohan Road, Guru Arjun Nagar, Bilal Ganj, Malik Park, Kasur Pura, Lytton Road and some area of Gulshan Ravi along with thickly populated areas of the city. Union Councils, including 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 71, 93 and a few more.
History of NA-125
In 1985, the PML-N’s former chairman and three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made his political debut from this constituency and won consecutively from 1985 to 1997. Between 1988 and 1997, this constituency was NA-95 from where four persons, including Mian Azher (1989), Ishaq Dar (1993), Pervaiz Malik (1997) and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz (2017) also made their electoral debuts in the by-polls, all the time the seat was vacated by Nawaz. In 1993 and 1997, in the by-polls of NA-96 Javaid Hashmi and Kamil Ali Agha have also been winner. In this way, this can rightly be called a home seat of the Sharif family from where most of the times its members, close relatives or close confidants have won.
By 2002, major part of previous NA-95 became NA-120; NA-120 was a constituency that was carved out by bifurcating major part of previous NA-95 and some part of previous NA-96. From previous NA-96, Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of Nawaz Sharif, also remained a consecutive winner.
In 1988, Nawaz Sharif won the seat while defeating Arif Iqbal Bhatti of Pakistan People’s Party. In 1990, Nawaz emerged victorious once again while defeating PPP and Tehreek-e-Istaqlal’s joint candidate Air Marshal ® Asghar Khan. In 1993, Nawaz won the seat and PPP’s Zia Bakht Butt remained the runner-up candidate.
However, this constituency is also known for the electoral debut of the PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan who fielded himself against Nawaz Sharif in 1997. In that context, Nawaz Sharif won once again and he was followed by Hafiz Ghulam Mohyuddin of the PPP whereas Imran stood at Number 3. In 2002, when Sharifs were in exile and this constituency had become NA-120, the PML-N’s Pervaiz Malik won from here whereas the PPP’s Altaf Qureshi remained the runner-up candidate.
In 2008, while Nawaz Sharif was back to Pakistan, Pervaiz Malik was denied the ticket and Bilal Yaseen, a relative of Sharif family was fielded from here. He also won the poll comfortably against PPP’s Jahangir Badar. In 2013, Nawaz Sharif, with the gap of 16 years contested again from this seat and maintained his winning streak from the constituency.
Nawaz Sharif won with the decent margin against PTI’s Dr Yameen Rashid amid allegation of rigging levelled by the PTI.
Following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz was fielded from here and she also won the seat, although the party vote bank came down considerably.
With the emergence of two new religious political parties in form of Tehreek-e-Labaik and Tehreek-e-Allah-o-Akbar, the split of vote in the constituency is very much likely. The supporters of both these groups which represent two different schools of thought have mostly sided with the PML-N in past. In case of neck and neck contest, this division of vote may benefit the PTI and the PML-N has to go extra mile to counter these challenges.
Advantages to PTI and PML-N
In NA-125, Waheed Alam is representing the PML-N. He lives at Anarkali, Ganpat Road and that is a plus point for him as the major area belongs to his cast and family members.
The PML-N never faced defeat from this constituency even when the leadership was not in the country. The voters of this constituency proved their loyalty again in 2013 when Kulsoom Nawaz contested for by-polls and Maryam Nawaz did her mother’s campaign.
In PP-149 and PP-150 Mian Marghub and Bilal Yaseen both have strong political backgrounds respectively. They both were MNAs in 2008.
Dr Yasmeen Rashid is the PTI contestant and she has contested from the same constituency twice. She gave a tough competition to the PML-N every time but couldn’t grasp a seat.
On the other hand, Pakistan People’s Party never emerged as a strong opponent from this constituency, whereas religious parties are becoming stronger.
Problems of the constituency
The major problem of this constituency is neglected sewerage. A drain situated along with the Bund Road, Shafiqabad site poses several questions to the city administration. Most of the local people apprised The News of a number of incidents that minors have died while falling in the drain with no protection around it.
Ponds of stagnant water are seen at multiple points particularly in PP-150.
There are total 353 polling stations of NA-125 from which 154 belongs to PP-150 and 199 belongs to PP-149 and 1,070 polling booths. Women polling booths are 481 and men polling booths are 594 in numbers.
This constituency is thickly populated and number of total voters are 485,624 for NA-125 and 275,367 total voters for PP-149 and 210,257 total voters for PP-150.