Namal College, Mianwali presents an unusual case; it displays no flags, banners or posters of its founder Imran Khan or his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).
Namal college is affiliated with BradfordUniversity, and is providing technical education and a stipend to students.
However, in Mianwali, which is Khan’s own constituency, the ‘modern education’ provided by the college and PTI’s slogan of ‘change’ do not hold sway.
“Boys and girls walk hand in hand in NamalCollege and we do not want such a change in our society,” said a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporter, Malik Ahmed Khan in a rally at Rikhi.
The rally was organised by Rikhi residents to express solidarity with Obaidullah Khan Shadi Khel, PML-N’s candidate for Mianwali.
The speaker also complained about the college’s strictly meritocratic system for granting admissions.
“Our children are not admitted to the college and Khan has refused to allocate quotas for locals,” Ahmed Khan added.
In Mianwali, around 80 percent of the population is rural and socially conservative. The district also includes the Paikhel Union Council where women have never been allowed to vote by the jirga.
However, PTI’s Ayla Malik struggled and organised a jirga meeting and convinced them to allow their women to vote.
PTI’s campaign in this area is spearheaded by Malik, the granddaughter of West Pakistan governor Nawab of Kalabagh. She is also utilising her family’s influence for campaigning.
Malik is third on PTI’s female reserved seats priority list. She was warmly welcomed by the Kalabagh residents on her arrival. She addressed the rally and talked about change, promising to address their problems.
On the other hand, PML-N candidates are using a list of 14 demands for the people’s welfare signed by Nawaz Sharif.
“This is from PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif,” Shadi Khel said. The demands include establishing the DanishSchool, declaring Mianwali a tax-free zone, gas provision, plots for the deserving and a dyke’s construction for protection against River Indus.
“The locals should be given admission in NamalCollege,” he told the rally, adding, “Worry not; there will soon be a cadet college in Mianwali for your children.” He also said that the PML-N chief has already pledged to fulfill their demands.
PML-N candidate for PP-44 Adil Abdullah Rokhari clarified, “I will be honest; addressing 100 percent of your problems would not be possible but I can assure you that 60-70 percent of them will be addressed.”