LAHORE: After the publication of final list of candidates for the general elections 2018, the candidates contesting from NA-135 have prepared themselves to give a tough time to their rivals.
Lahore’s NA-135 constituency comprises of the electoral areas which were a part of erstwhile NA-128, where contesting candidates belonged to Lahore’s famous Khokhar family.
Like in the past, these elections too will witness major rivals from Khokhar family. Even though they are related to each other, Khokars have had a political rivalry with each other during many past elections.
A major part of this constituency is the same as it was in 2013 when Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) Malik Afzal Khokhar had defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Malik Karamat Ali Khokhar. Before 2013, Afzal had defeated Karamat in 2008 when Karamat was affiliated with Pakistan People Party (PPP).
This time around, Karamat Khokhar will face Malik Afzal’s elder brother Malik Saiful Malook Khokhar, who has been elected twice as a member of Punjab assembly (MPA) from the electoral areas which now fall under NA-135.
The NA-135 is the smallest among Lahore’s constituencies where the number of registered voters is 243,689 – 134,207 male and 109,482 female voters. According to an estimate, the constituency has over 120,000 voters belonging to Khokhar biradri.
The constituency comprises Marghazar Colony, Awan Town, Shadiwal Pind, Hanjarwal, Mustafa Town, Rana Town, Mansoora, Niaz Baig, Judicial Colony, Ali Town, Johar Town, Canal View, PIA Colony, Shahpur Kanjran, Khanpur, Ali Raza Abad, Nisar Abad and Valencia.
As both the major political parties – the PML-N and PTI – have fielded their candidates belonging to the same biradri, a tough competition is expected.
There will be two provincial assembly constituencies – PP-161 and PP-173 –falling under NA-135. In PP-161, Malik Nadeem Bara will contest against PML-N’s Faisal Ayub Khokhar while in PP-173 PTI has fielded Malik Sarfraz Khokhar against Maryam Nawaz Sharif.
Hanjarwal, Samsani, Niaz Baig, Shadiwal and Ali Raza Abad have been a stronghold of Afzal Khokhar while a major area of Shahpur and Awan Town had also voted for him during previous elections. After the nomination of Malik Saiful Malook, a number of voters will deviate toward Malik Karamat Khokhar.
In Shahpur Kanjra, most of the voters belong to Arain cast, who have been supporting PML-N candidates. This year, however, they are ready to put their weight behind Karamat Khokhar. The people of Khanpur, another stronghold of Khokhar family, have decided to support PTI.
Pakistan Today’s visit to the constituency found out that Malik Sarfraz of PP-173 has considerable support and his personal vote bank would also support Malik Karamat Khokhar.
Johar Town, PIA Colony, Canal View, Awan Town, EME Society and Mustafa Town are urban areas of the constituency where PTI somehow has managed to increase its vote bank. Malik Saiful Malook, however, has been elected twice from this area where his support base is strong, and will also support his son Faisal Ayub Khokhar for PP-161.
The political big wigs of the area, however, see Faisal Ayub as a week candidate due to internal politics. Earlier, PML-N had nominated Malik Shabbir Khokhar from PP-161 but later, Ayub Khokhar was awarded with a ticket.
Nadeem Bara of PTI, another candidate of Khokhar biradri, is not in a good position to win but he can gain party’s votes.
As far as development of the area is concerned, damaged streets and poor sewage system exposes the tall claims of previous elected members. People of Niaz Baig area, who have voted for Saiful Malook, were seen angry this time due to lack of provision of basic facilities.
But Saiful Malook is still hopeful of winning as he believes that he has served the people of his constituency.
Contrarily, Malik Karamat stated that his chances of winning outshine the PML-N candidates as he they have failed in providing basic amenities to the people of the constituency. He also blamed Malik Afzal for a high crime ratio in these areas.