–After change of tactics for Maryam Nawaz, NA-125 to witness a tough contest between PTI’s Dr Yasmin and PML-N’s Waheed
–Long-lasting PML-N support in Mozang fades away due to internal rift, emerging tilt towards PTI
LAHORE: Following the decision of Maryam Nawaz Sharif to not contest from the Lahore’s NA-125, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is facing a test of nerves in the constituency despite the fact that a large number of people belonging to the old generation still appear to be loyal to the party.
Under the fresh delimitations, the previous National Assembly constituency NA-120 Lahore-III has now become NA-125 and Riwaz Garden, Islam Pura, Sunatnagar, Sanda Road, Mohni Road, Mozang, Waris Road, Ganga Ram, Kacha Jail Road, GOR 1, Dhobhi Mandi, Mozang Ada and Gulshan Ravi are part of it.
A total of 14 candidates are contesting from the NA-125. These include Dr Yasmin Rashid (PTI), Hafiz Salman Butt (independent), Rehana Ahmed (independent), Zubair Kardar (PPP), Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri (independent), Muhammad Ajasam Sharif, Muhammad Imtiaz Chaudhry, Mamoona Hamid (Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan), Muhammad Yaqub Sheikh (Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek supported by Milli Muslim League of Jamatud Dawa), Nawab Amber Shahzada (independent), Waheed Alam Khan (PML-N) and Waseem Ali Khan (independent).
The real contest is expected between the PML-N’s Waheed Alam Khan and PTI’s Yasmin Rashid. Waheed Alam Khan remained nazim of Anarkali union council and enjoys vast support of his Pathan clansmen in that area while Yasmin Rashid enjoys support because of her Arian clan and social welfare work.
Muhammad Imran, 50, a resident of Mohni Road said he voted for the PML-N in all the previous elections and would vote for the party again. When his attention was drawn that Maryam Nawaz has changed her election constituency from NA-125 to NA-127, he said: “It does not make any difference. It is the decision of the party which she followed. We always voted for Nawaz Sharif and will continue to do so in future as well.”
20-year-old Arshad Khan of Bilal Ganj said he never voted for any party. However, he said, “My father and forefathers have been voting for the PML-N since decades. Therefore, I will vote for the PML-N.”
“The PML-N has done great development work in the area. The road has been constructed by the party while streets have been repaired. The country makes progress whenever the PML-N is in the government. I and my family will vote for the lion,” said 40-year-old Talha Waheed of Islampura who runs a shop in the Islampura Bazaar.
However, the situation in several areas of Mozang was observed to be quite different. It was seen that there’s a tilt towards the PTI in certain areas.
“The PML-N did nothing for the constituency despite the fact Nawaz Sharif and his family remained in power several times. We should not test the already tested ones and vote for the new faces”, said disgruntled PML-N-turned-PTI loyalist Rizwan Naseer in Mozang.
Muhammad Ahmed, Shahid Sharif and Abid Khan of the same area also expressed similar views.
Dr Yasmin Rashid has suffered defeats two times from the constituency – first at the hands of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the 2013 general elections and second from ailing Kulsoom Nawaz during by-elections after the vigorous campaign led by her daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif. The NA-125 has been considered a stronghold of the PML-N for last 35 years and the Sharif family never suffered a defeat from this constituency in the recent past.
But this time, the situation is different in the constituency as the PML-N is also facing internal rift against the official candidate Waheed Alam Khan. Many diehard workers have opposed his candidature.