–Meo clan voters pledge to support Imran Khan-led PTI and vote for Malik Asad in 2018 polls
–PTI workers welcome the support of former PML-N MPA Chaudhary Gulzar who recently switched loyalties
LAHORE: The contesting candidates for the National Assembly’s constituency NA-136 have largely focused the electoral areas of Raiwind, Sundar, and Manga Mandi to convince the voters for the upcoming general elections.
As the most part of the constituency consisted of peri-urban areas where this has been witnessed in past that people had been voting on the basis of personal likeness or the system of clans.
For the general elections 2018, this constituency has at least 298747 registered voters among them 174,214 are male while the 124,533 are female voters.
After the new delimitations were drawn by Election Commission of Pakistan, most of the electoral areas of NA-136 are same as these were in NA-128 during in general elections 2013. Such electoral areas have been known as the stronghold of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) in the past where PML-N’s Malik Afzal Khokhar defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI’s) Karamat Khokhar. PTI again has fielded Karamat Khokhar but now he is contesting against Afzal Khokhar’s brother Saiful Malook Khokhar in NA-135.
After the new delimitations the constituency’s new formation consisted of areas including Railway Colony Raiwind, Railway Station Quarter, Kot Babu Khan Raiwind T.C, Manga Road, Manga Mandi, Basti Ameen Pura, Punjgrain Chung, Iqbal Avenue, Azmeer Town, Mohlanwal, Maraka, Shamkay Bhattian, Sundar, Manga Autar, Raye Arayian, Bhobtian, Babalyana Otar, Jhodho Dhayr and others.
At least, 13 candidates are contesting on this constituency where eight will contest as independent candidates. Malik Afzal Khokhar has been fielded by PML-N where he is expected to have a tough competition with PTI’s Malik Asad Ali Khokhar. Among other candidates, Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian’s Jamil Ahmad, Pakistan People’s Party-Shaheed Bhutto’s Chaudhary Ahmad Hussain, Tehreek Labaik Pakistan’s Muhammad Ahmad Majeed are also in competition while Khalid Mehmood, Zubair Ahmad, Sardar Adil Umar, Sardar Kamil Umar, Shabeer Ahmad, Irfan Shafi Khokhar, Muhammad Khan Bhatti and Muhammad Younis are in field as independent candidates.
However, the major contest is expected to be witnessed between PTI and PMLN candidates, Malik Asad Ali Khokhar and Malik Afzal Khokhar respectively. There are two provincial assembly’s constituencies; PP-171 and PP-172 fall under NA-136. On PP-171 seat PTI has fielded Rana Javaid Umar while Col (r) Rana Muhammad Tariq is the candidate of PML-N. Likewise, on PP-172 seat, PTI’s Khalid Mahmood Gujjar will contest against PMN-N’s Mirza Javaid.
MEO VOTERS BACK PTI:
Since the electioneering season was started, all the parties were in the race to attract the voters. As most of the constituency has areas considered as peri-urban. That is why candidates can be witnessed to attract the biradaris (clans) and groups having vote banks.
As the electoral areas like Raiwind, Sundar, Chung and Manga Mandi have a large number of voters where influential clans have been playing their role in the win of any candidate. This was why all candidates have put their efforts to gain support from the said areas.
The constituency has a large vote bank of biradaris like Meo, Khokhar, Gujjar, Arayen while Rajputs and Jutts are also in great number. But, the vote of Meo biradari seems to be able to change the fate of any candidate.
Ch Abdul Ghafoor Meo, who is a local leader of the Meo biradari, had parted ways with the PML-N. He has come forward in favour of PTI and is very hopeful to attract his biradaris vote for PTI’s candidates.
On other side, Manga Mandi area remained a stronghold of PML-N in past where Khokhars have their personal vote bank. Afzal Khokhar of PMLN is still hopeful that in said area PMLN has committed voters who can never be deviated.
Khokhar may have a setback as a score of union council’s chairpersons have announced their support for PTI’s Asad Khokhar. Belong to an influential family of the area, Asad Khokhar is himself new in the national politics but has support in the area.
Initially, a conflict was reported between Khalid Gujjar and Asad Khokhar over the rewarding of tickets but later Khalid Gujjar agreed to contest on the provincial assembly’s seat PP-172 under Asad Khokhar.
According to Chaudhry Ghafoor Meo, the constituency has over 55,000 voters belonging to Meo clan and their ratio of casting vote remained 80 per cent during the last elections. He believes that all Meo voters will put their vote behind PTI’s candidate. Talking to Pakistan Today, he said the Meo biradari has remained loyal to the cause of Pakistan and now they had realised that the Sharifs’ policies were against the national interest.
EX-PML-N MPA GULZAR CHANGES LOYALTIES:
The local politicians and political groups believe that after PML-N’s former MPA Chaudhary Gulzar announced his support for PTI, it will have a good effect for Malik Asad.
On other hands, PTI has succeeded in gaining the support of Bhatti biradari of Shamkay Bhattian who are deeply rooted in the political scene of the constituency.
Looking at the condition of the constituency, it has the same issues that remained unresolved during the last five years. These problems include the lack of a proper sewerage system, unavailability of clean drinking water, poor health and educational system and etc.