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September 13, 2018

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi hopeful of winning NA-124 by-polls


September 13, 2018

LAHORE: Former Prime Minister and PML-N candidate from NA-124 Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said the party will continue its winning streak from the constituency and prove its ballot strength once again in by-elections.

Talking to The News, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who has been fielded from NA-124, a seat of Lahore vacated by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif said that his party organisations, the workers were very active and mobilised. He stated that he was hopeful that the party would once again win this seat.

To a question about the objections raised on him by opponents that he hailed from a different part of Punjab and had no link with this constituency, the former prime minister replied it was the decision of party and PML-N workers were showing a very positive response to him. This is noteworthy that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is busy in election campaign for the by-polls but from the rival party, that is PTI, so far no candidate has been finalised. From this seat, Hamza Shehbaz Sharif scored a win in July 25 elections with a margin of over 60, 000 votes against PTI’s Nauman Qaiser.

Hamza Shahbaz stood at number one position while bagging around 146, 000 votes followed by around 83000 votes of PTI’s Nauman Qaiser.

For the by polls, three PTI members including Azad Kashmir MLA Diwan Ghulam Mohi ud Din, Muhammad Madni and Dr Shahid Siddique are in contest. One candidate Mohammed Imtiaz has also applied for the party ticket but Dr Shahid Siddique and Diwan are amongst the top aspirants. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who got elected from the constituency covering Muree, Kahuta, Barakuh, Kallar syeda and other parts of Pindi district got elected as MNA in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2008 and 2013 polls. He suffered defeat in 2002 and 2018 polls in the hands of PPP’s Ghulam Murtaza Satti and PTI’s Sadaqat Abbasi and Asad Umer respectively. He lost from both seats in 2018. Shahid Khaqan made his electoral debut in 1988 when he surprised many while defeating Islami Jamhuri Ittehad candidate Raja Zafar ul Haq and won as independent candidate from the then NA-36. Shahid Khaqan won that seat in 1988 while bagging 47295 votes and Raja Zafar ul Haq of IJI stood at number two with 45075 votes. PPP candidate Raja Anwer in that contest got 42971 votes.

In 1990 general elections, Shahid Khaqan as the IJI candidate emerged victorious while bagging 80305 votes followed by PPP’s Raja Anwer who got 54011 votes from the then NA-36. In 1993 general election, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi emerged victorious while getting 76596 votes whereas the PPP candidate Col (Retd) Habib Khan stood at number two with 45173 votes. In 1997 general elections, Shahid Khaqan defeated Babar Awan of PML-J with a margin of around 45000 votes. In that contest, Shahid Khaqan got 65194 votes and Babar Awan stood at number two with 2178 votes. Sources also stated that PTI is also witnessing some ‘comedy of errors’ in the constituency. A PTI committee, without knowing the actual situation and details of applicants conducted surveys of NA-124 which declared Nauman Qasider as the most suitable candidate. When Nauman was approached by the committee head, he was told about the survey and party’s decision to award him the ticket. Nauman Qaisder told the committee head that he didn’t even file nomination papers. In this way, the PTI in its survey, that was completed very late and after the passing of the date of nomination papers filing declared that person the most favourite candidate who didn’t even apply for the ticket.

The PTI at present is facing a challenging situation in NA-124 for multiple reasons. In case it awards ticket to Dr Shahid Siddique Khan, the group of Diwan Ghulam, who belongs to NA-124 is unlikely to accept this decision which could eventually split the party vote. Moreover, the PML-N, already has a very robust organisation in this constituency and after the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the party voters are more likely to express their anger against PTI even with more enthusiasm and passion. PTI lost this seat with a huge margin and now with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a former Prime Minister as the candidate, the organisations are quite actively participating in the poll process.

Senator Dr Asad Ashraf, who was also the campaign in-charge of Hamza Shahbaz Sharif’s election of July 25 is once again seen quite actively participating the electioneering. He is regularly visiting voters in different parts of the constituency that comprises of around 90pc of the Northern Lahore areas like Shadbagh, Misrishah, Faizbagh, Badamibagh, Sultanpura as well as almost entire walled city including Masti Gate, Sheranwala Gate, Mohri Gate, Delhi Gate, Mochi Gate, Lohari gate, Bhaati gate etc. The constituency also includes the areas like Qilla Gujjar Singh, Empress Road, Abbot Road etc where PML-N, with no confusion about its candidate has started campaign.

Banners welcoming Shahid Khaqan by PML-N organisations are also seen on display in different parts. Polls on this seat are scheduled to be held on October 14.

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