With the unfolding of a catalogue é carrying an all-inclusive roll of the aspirants of clutching seats in the National Assembly plus the four Provincial Legislatures of the Punjab, Sindh, the NWFP and Balochistan é the election crusade has been kicked off by all segments of the partakers with a fabulous zest.
Opening with an elfin stroke, the fervour may take a couple-of-days to hit the peak due to erratic ‘bilateral parleys’ between some of the like-minded to solicit ‘each others’ support. By and large most of such species could not reach a consensus and have as a result opted to ‘strike the luck on their own’.
The surfacing of the ultimate list features miscellaneous new-fangled gazes who have stepped into the arena of polls afresh in an excited way to check their doom alone or through the ‘crutches’ of a party or an alliance. At the same time there are many who have been getting through such an exercise even in the gone-by eras, emerging either victorious or putting-off their plans until the new opinion poll. Though with diverse perceptions é almost all the candidates for Election 2002 é have one identical notion é to serve the populace in an atypical way ‘ if elected ‘. Amidst ‘accusations and counter-accusations’ , a number of the competitors are setting emphasis on ‘getting the socio-economic lot of their constituents’ ameliorated with a unique mind-set, others are zealously equipped with the pledges vis-é-vis the enforcement of an order é in every sphere of life é in line with the indispensable values, as enshrined by our sacr! ed religion é Islam.
With the advent of the 21st century, the body of voters has virtually become much more eloquent than before. Hence they can conveniently figure out the meanings of the catchphrases, a common phenomenon, in hallucination almost everywhere now-a-days. With the words of theorist Mark Twain wherein he had said “I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened” the people are now stuck to listen to the candidates with a ray of hope that may be the up-coming legislatures become a ‘source of inspiration and strength for them ‘ with factual acuity as saviours of their justifiable rights, they were kept away in the past.
With the evaporation of two major dynasties, ‘The Sharifs and The Bhuttos’ the Election é 2002 has é in a way – taken a tedious gyrate. The extravaganza of polls has thus not yet reached the zenith that has been customary on the political horizons of Pakistan. Nonetheless, the aficionados of the two reigns have geared up their drive to excel in a big way é by getting advices from beyond the Arabian Sea é to overpower what is being generally said these days by a set of politicians é the Kings’ party. To achieve this goal, even some arch rivals have assembled at one podium é explicitly with some seats’ adjustments – with a singular aspire of féting optimal seats in the Houses of Legislation.
As elsewhere, this course has been adopted even in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, where once team-mates have erected their pergolas against each other. The two neighbourhoods have nine seats in the new National Assembly. Islamabad Capital Territory has been allocated with two and the Rawalpindi district with seven places é in the light of the de-limitation of fresh constituencies. Every one is prima facie claimant of a dazzling triumph, yet some indicators appear obvious. For instance, a tough competition seems perceptible in NA-48 (Islamabad I) between young Dr. Babar Awan of the PPPP, ex-MNAs Syed Zafar Ali Shah of PML (N), Munawar Mughal of PML (QA) and Sahibzada Ahmed Raza Kasuri of PTI. They may have a neck-to-neck combat.
The other competitors in this constituency include, Haji Mohammed Hanif Tayyub, Dr. Mohammad Nasir Ansari, Rao Javed Ali Khan ,Shafiqur Rehman Sanjrani, Syed Shoukat Ameer ‘ Syed Tayyub al-Hussaini, Shakeel Hasan Qaiser , Alamgir Khan, Ghulam Mehboob Col. (Retd) Sanaullah Raja, Mohammed Shafiq Choudhry, Mohammad Farooq Butt, Mian Aslam and Maj. (Retd) Fuzail Hussain Khan. Likewise there are 10 contestants in the field for NA 49 including Dr. Tariq Fazal of PML (N), Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari of PPPP, Rab Nawaz Ch. of PTI, Raja Mohammad Yameen Abbasi of PAT and Mustapha Nawaz Khokhar as independent. Others in this constituency include Sardar Ghulam Mustafa, Sardar Mohammad Sabir, Shakeel Ahmed Anjum, Mohammad Rahim Awan and Malik Masood Ahmed Awan. A tough competition is predictable between Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari and Mustapha Nawaz Khokhar, son of an ex-MNA Haji Nawaz Khokhar! as in a way he has the ‘expectant back-up’ of PML (QA).
As for Rawalpindi almost all the main parties with ample self-regulating participants are in the race. In NA-50, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has been put up by PML-N, Ghulam Murtaza Satti by PPPP, Muhammad Safian Abbassi by MMA, Muhammad Saddique Qureshi by PTI and Col. (Retd) Mohammad Masood has stepped in as an independent. A hard-hitting contest is being envisioned between the first two.
Similarly there are four candidates in NA-51 with Ch. Khursheed Zaman PML (N), Raja Pervez Ashraf PPPP, Majid Haseeb Shiekh MMA, Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri PAT. Only the time will tell the name of the lucky winner as the campaign by all has been initiated in a full-size way.
NA-52 shall be viewing a fascinating contest with ex-Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML (N), Ch. Zafar Iqbal, PPPP, Muhammad Nasir Raja, PML (QA) as well as Col. (Retd) Sakhwat Hussain as independent.
As for NA 53, there are two salient candidates in run, Ch. Nisar Ali of PML (N) and Sardar Shoaib Mumtaz Khan, PPPP, whose luck is by and large being guessed specifically in the light of preceding upshots. Ghulam Sarwar Khan who was earlier the nominee of the PPPP in this constituency and stood replaced subsequently would now be contesting as an independent.
And NA-54 is é simultaneously é going to observe an alluring race with an articulate and soft-spoken persona like, ex-Minister Raja Zafar ul Haq of the PML (N) é well known as a pragmatist vis-é-vis the ground realities – with lofty esteem in the Islamic World as one of the key figures in the Rabita Alam-e-Islami who will be in competition with ex-Minister Ijazul Haq of PML (Z) the winner of the previous elections with PML (N) ticket and Zammurd Khan of PPPP. Though an abode of others, the constituency é as one looks at it – does have a sagacity of warmth for Raja Zafar ul Haq as he has perpetually eschewed ‘party shifts-cum-affiliations’. Its’ evident from the magnitude of the assemblage of Raja Zafar ul Haq, Chairman of the PML (N) side-by-side the hefty crowds of his challengers Ijazul Haq and Zummarad Khan, who have their own peculiar touch of fragrance. The other candidates i! n this constituency include Syed Zahid Abbas Kazmi, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of MMA, Col (Rtd), Ghulam Qadir of PTI, Col. (Retd) Sanaullah Khan, PAT, Maj (Rtd), Mehr Muhammad Ramzan and Brig.(Retd) Nusrat Saleem Jehan of the TPP.
As per the final list, in NA-55, PPPP’s Agha Riazul Islam is to face Sardar Muhammad Tariq of PML (N) as well as the winner of the previous polls é now an Independent candidate, ex-Minister Sheikh Rashid, with three other candidates , Tariq Munir Butt, Abdul Hafiz Khokhar, Ahmad Raza Kasuri of PTI and Naveed Sharif Butt. Known with adore, as ‘ Farzand-e-Rawalpindi’ amongst his fans, the Kashmiri-born Sheikh Rashid has gone on board of his steer in a inexorable style whereas Agha Riazul Islam and Sardar Tariq – too – are equally getting onto their campaign with zeal to draw highest punters.
An icon of ‘the would-be champion ‘may become discernible in the days’ ahead.
Yet another elusive struggle for a win in the offing is in NA- 56, where Sardar Shaukat Hayat of PPPP and Syed Zafar Ali Shah of the PML (N) are in front of N’s one-time pal Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, now in the race as an independent in two constituencies. Sanguine Neelofar Bakhtiar, ones an ally of the N-faction of the PML bangs her first-ever prospect for a seat in the NA from this constituency on a ticket, awarded by PML (QA) headship. Other candidates in this electorate are Dr Afzal Aizaz, MMA and Aamir Mehmood Kiyani of PTI.
With this account of the competitors, one can conveniently assess that except for a few, the gala of contest in most of the constituencies is going to be much sturdy as well as multifarious, in a way repugnant to the traditions of the past. Party affiliations’ apart, most of the candidates é this time é shall be adjudged on the basis not only of their long-ago testimonies but with their truthful approach plus visualization towards the bona fide solution of the crucial inconveniences, which remained unattended by their representatives with one raison d’étre or the other. A marked change in the mind-set of the masses é both in the rural and urban terrain é is a manifestation of the fact that they would now go for ‘the best’ who could alleviate their ordeals through an accurate intellect of ‘love and affection’ for all times to come.
The author is a noted journalist, political analyst and ex-Director News Pakistan TV.