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Sunday July 14, 2024

Syeds, Hirajs, Sarganas flex muscles in NA-144 Khanewal-I

By Nadeem Shah
January 20, 2024

MULTAN: The Multan Division comprises four districts – Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal and Vehari. The division has 16 national and about 33 provincial assembly seats.

Workers preparing election campaign posters of political parties at a printer, ahead of the upcoming general elections in lahore. — Online/File
Workers preparing election campaign posters of political parties at a printer, ahead of the upcoming general elections in lahore. — Online/File

However, bigwigs and key contenders are contesting the polls in eleven national assembly constituencies in the election 2024 where political activities are gaining momentum. A senior politician belonging to the Awami Workers Party, Zafar Chaudhry, has observed that Khanewal is one of the important districts in electoral politics and is the gateway to south Punjab. Its inhabitants do not speak Seraiki but are considered part of the proposed Seraikistan. Here votes are given in view of caste, community and personal relations, not ideology and manifesto. So their votes should not be seen with reference to any single party. The traditional election hustle and bustle has picked momentum in NA-144 Khanewal-I. The Election Commission of Pakistan delimited NA-144 Khanewal-I under NA-150 Khanewal-I in the 2018 elections, ECP statistics said. Independents are in majority and then are political parties’ contenders in the election influenced by feudal lords who often change political parties. The constituency has a significance as heavy weights prefer to contest as independents instead of struggling for party tickets, leaving a question for democratic values and culture. NA-144 Khanewal-I is one of the traditional constituencies in the Multan division where big landholders and agriculturists mainly Syed and Hiraj groups are in the election battle. The constituency covers rural areas and parts of Kabirwala Tehsil including Municipal Committee Kabirwala (Charge No 10), Town Committee Sarai Sidhu (Charge No 12), Qanugo Halqas of Kabirwala Tehsil including Chak No 25/Gagh, Sardarpur, Salar Wahain Kohna, Kukar Hatta, Sarai Sidhu, Bagar excluding the following Patwar circles: Nehalewala, Jahanpur, Jalilpur, Barewala, Kabirwala, Mubarakpur, Kot Bahadar, Kaurewala, Chak No 14/V, 5-Kasi, Patwar Circle of Kabirwala-II Qanugo Halqa, Abdul Hakim Qanungo, Hataran, Abdul Hakim, Batian, Umeedgarh, Bobindgarh, Jalla Pahore.

ECP statistics say the total numbers of registered voters is 463, 649 in the constituency including male 249,924 and female 213,725 voters. However, in the 2018 elections, the total registered voters in this constituency were 380,605 including male 214,541 and female 166,064 voters, indicating deletion of 83,044 votes in the constituency. Thirteen candidates are in the run in NA-144 Khanewal-I. Syed and Hiraj groups are contesting as independents while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has fielded candidates from the Sargana group. The ROs have allotted election symbols to all candidates.

The Election Commission of Pakistan Form 33 says that among the candidates are Syed Mukhtar Shah (PMLN), Muhammad Zaman (PPP), Abdul Khaliq Rehmani (Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party), Abdur Rauf (Pakistan Markazi Muslim League), Muhammad Mushtaq (TLP) and Manzoor Hussain (JI). In this constituency, Raza Hayat from the Hiraj group is a candidate for the National Assembly and his two brothers Asghar Hayat Hiraj and Akbar Hayat Hiraj are contesting the polls for Punjab Assembly slots. Dr Khawar Ali Shah and former provincial minister Syed Hussain Jahanian Gardezi are candidates for national and provincial assemblies from the Syed group of Syed Fakhar Imam. The independents include Syed Fakhar Imam, Syed Abid Imam, Raza Hayat Hiraj, Amir Raza, Sultan Ahmed, Irfan Ahmed, Muhammad Ehsan, Muhammad Zaman, Muhammad Mushtaq and Manzoor Hussein.

Political workers have confirmed that Syed Fakhar Imam’s son Syed Abid Imam will contest the election. The electoral chronology of the constituency reveals that it was delimited in each election with a changed constituency number, which played a key role in alignment and realignment of political groups in the constituency. It also reveals the candidates participating in the elections did not continue their loyalties with a single political party and contested each election under a new party. The constituency experienced a triangular fight in the past elections. The ECP delimited the constituency NA-144 Khanewal-I under NA-150 Khanewal-I in the 2018 elections. The Syed group led by Syed Fakhar Imam has deeply influenced the constituency, while the Hiraj clan led by Raza Hayat Hiraj and Sarganas have also deeply influenced the constituency. Syed Fakhar Imam contested most elections as an independent and won or lost the slots. He had won the slot in the 2018 elections by securing 101,520 votes. PTI candidate Raza Hayat Hiraj lost by more than 23,000 votes. Raza received 92,039 votes. PMLN candidate Saeed Ahmed Sargana also lost and received 18,116 votes.

The ECP delimited the constituency under NA-156 Khanewal-I in the 2013 elections. Raza Hayat Hiraj won the slot as an independent with 79,353 votes by defeating Syed Fakhar Imam (PMLN) by 10,000 votes. Fakhar Imam received 69,274 votes. PTI candidate Dr Syed Khawar Ali Shah received 20,676 votes. The ECP delimited the constituency under NA-156 Khanewal-I in the 2008 elections. Raza Hayat Hiraj on the PMLN ticket won the slot with 71,381 votes by defeating Syed Fakhar Imam who received 58,271 votes on the PPP ticket. PMLN candidate Dr Syed Khawar Ali Shah received 12,911 votes and lost. Another independent candidate, Maulana Ajmal Qadir, received 1,883 votes. The constituency is also influenced by religious votes. Muttahida Deeni Mahaz candidate Maulana Abdul Khaliq Rehmani received 12,945 votes and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam candidate Maulana Abdul Majid Anwar received 1,183 votes in the 2013 elections.