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NA-120: a launching pad for many bigwigs

By Faizan Bangash
September 05, 2017

LAHORE :The constituency of NA-120, Lahore III (previous NA-95) has been a launching pad for many noted politicians who reached directly to the National Assembly in their first ever election.

Other than Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister who also made his electoral debut from this constituency in 1985, some noted politicians like former Governor Punjab Mian Azhar, former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, sitting Federal Minister Pervaiz Malik have made their debut in parliamentary politics from the seat in different terms.

Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the PML-N candidate from NA-120, if wins will also join the group of previous fortunate winners who didn’t have to wait for another contest to reach directly to the National Assembly.

The current NA-120, which was previously NA-95 (till the 1997 general election) has fallen vacantas a result of disqualification of Prime MinisterNawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court.

Nawaz won this seat for the first time in the 1985 general elections which were held amid PPP boycott but retained the provincial seat and took oath as Chief Minister Punjab. On the vacated seat, Ali Asad Gilani won the contest in by polls.

However, the constituency came into the limelight for the first time in the 1988 general elections when Nawaz Sharif once again emerged victorious from here but retained the provincial assembly seat to take oath as Chief Minister Punjab. He pitched his then close aide, the sitting Mayor of Lahore Mian Mohammed Azhar from this slot in by-polls. PPP fielded Justice (Rtd) Malik Saeed Hassan but Azhar won the seat amid rigging allegations from the PPP.

Mian Azhar, who contested his first election for the parliamentary slot won it and it was a lucky debut for him. Azhar in the first government of Nawaz Sharif in 1990 was also made Governor Punjab and in the 1997 elections, he was also awarded a ticket from the then NA-92 which he also won with big margin. Later, in the 1993 general elections, Nawaz, while winning two seats from Lahore and one from Abbotabad had to vacate two of them.

Nawaz retained the Abbotabad seat and vacated two from Lahore including the then NA-92 and NA-95. From NA-92, he pitched his brother Abbas Sharif who won with not a very big margin over PPP’s Haji Aziz ur Rehman Chan.

From NA-95, Nawaz Sharif, amid severe objections from the rival parties, fielded Ishaq Dar, his close confidant, in by-polls. Ishaq had previously served as Chairman Pakistan Investment Board and rival parties raised objections to his candidature for multiple reasons but Dar was fielded and won the by election quite comfortably.

It was also the first ever the mainstream election of Ishaq Dar and he became MNA without not much political experience. In 1997 by polls, Pervaiz Malik was launched in electoral politics from this seat which Nawaz vacated after winning two others.

Pervaiz Malik’s brother Malik Qayum was the serving judge of Lahore High Court at that time and he was elected from the seat unopposed. Pervaiz Malik remained winner of the seat in the 2002 polls which were held in the absence of the Sharifs in the country who were spending exile in Saudia during the Musharraf era.

In the 2008 general elections which were held after the return of Nawaz Sharif, much to the surprise of many, Pervaiz Malik was refused a ticket and former MPA from the local provincial seat, Bilal Yasin was awarded  the ticket by PML-N. Bilal won this seat quite comfortably but it wasn’t his first major election as he had also been MPA in 2002.

Pervaiz Malik was later fielded in by-poll in 2010 from NA-123, a seat vacated by Makhdum Javed Hashmi from where he won easily. Pervaiz Malik is the sitting minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Now, with all eyes focused on NA-120, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz is also making her electoral debut from this seat. Begum Kulsoom Nawaz has been at forefront at the most critical phase in PML-N history while her husband Nawaz Sharif was facing imprisonment during the Musharraf era after the October 12, 1999 coup against the elected government.

She led the PML-N in that turbulent period and later went to exile with her family till it returned in November 2007. Despite being a senior leader, she is yet to contest any mainstream poll and in 2017 while Mian Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified, she is making her debut from the seat where prior to her all the PML-N ticket holders have won.