News Analysis |
Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi kick-started his election campaign from Kahuta district, an administrative division of Rawalpindi, on Sunday. His first outing didn’t go as planned. To his disappointment there was no warm welcome, but instead, a disgruntled crowd. The angry residents chanted ‘Go-Abbasi-Go’ and ‘Respect Voters’ confirming their disappointment in the ex-premier’s performance.
Estranged party workers encircled the ex-prime minister’s vehicle and reprimanded him for not keeping his promises pertaining to availability of gas and extending road networks. The angry mob halted his vehicle and yelled slogan after slogan, which was embarrassing to say the least.
The protestors had also tied black bands around their arms to protest against lack of development in the area. PM Abbasi addressed the workers and attempted to defuse the situation and urged the protestors to show patience. “Many projects are in the last phase of completion,” he assured the gatherers.
The protests against the local leaders reflect that workers are becoming increasingly mobile and informed against the failed policies of the government.
The constituents had shown their displeasure, which left Abbasi perplexed and disconcerted. The roads remained blocked for some time before local police intervened to make way for Abbasi’s vehicle.
NA-57: Abbasi’s Home Seat (Murree)
Abbasi is contesting on two national assembly seats- NA-57 Rawalpindi, which is his home constituency. It comprises Tehsils of Kotli Satian, Murree, Kahuta, Kallar Sayyedan having total votes of 7, 90,632. He won on this seat four times from 1988 to 2002 and twice in 2008 and 2013 general elections.
His only defeat since he started contesting the elections came in 2002 when Ghulam Murtaza Satti of Pakistan Peoples Party defeated him by 10,462. Since, then, Abbasi has never been defeated and is expected to win the upcoming elections, with huge margins. In 2013, he stretched his winning margins to 87,116 votes against his second place opponent Sadaqat Ali Abbasi of PTI.
Abbasi to Confront Khan in NA-53 Islamabad
The ultimate show down will occur when Abbasi confronts Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf’s Chairman Imran Khan in NA-53 Islamabad. PML-N’s choice, Abbasi is expected to put up a real challenge against Khan. Since, a bigger chunk of the population residing in NA-53 hails from areas such as Kotli Satian, Murree, Kahuta, and Kallar Sayyedan.
These people have a strong sense of affiliation with the former premier. A large number of people belonging to Abbasi’s constituency are living in Bhara Kahu, Banigala, Chattar, Tarlai, Mohra nur, Phulgaran, Suhan Dehati, Mouza Shezad town, Lakhwal and other rural areas of NA-53, making Abbasi a formidable candidate to challenge Khan in all-important Islamabad seat.
The protestors had also tied black bands around their arms to protest against lack of development in the area. PM Abbasi addressed the workers and attempted to defuse the situation and urged the protestors to show patience.
Many other potential candidates including MNA Syed Zafar Ali Shah, M. Sajid Abbasi and UC Phulgran chairman Raja Waqar Mumtaz have been ignored by the top leadership. Because they lack the popularity needed to fight Khan. Perhaps, this remains to be the only strategy that may salvage an otherwise sinking PML-N.
Following 2018 delimitations, Islamabad has been divided into three constituencies. NA-53 is comprised of the areas which were part of NA-48 before. In 2013 elections, PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi defeated Anjum Aqeel Khan in NA-48. After Hashmis left the seat, Asad Umar won it in August 2013 defeating a different PML-N candidate Chaudhary Muhammad Ashraf Gujjar.
Changing Trends: People Confronting Politicians
Though, Abbasi remains the hot favorite to win the seat in his hometown. He’s facing criticism from voters over failing to deliver over the last 5-years. The raging protestors have reminded him of the tough challenge ahead.
Earlier, angry voters had also confronted the PML-N candidate Sardar Jamal Leghari in DG Khan. In a video, it was seen that a young man grilled Leghari over his poor performance in his own constituency. Jamal’s failed attempt to pacify the angry villagers proved that voters now demand results, and not mere promises and explanations.
This change in voter mindset may be accredited to the relentless efforts of media, out on a mission to inform the otherwise estranged voters and party workers. The protests against the local leaders reflect that workers are becoming increasingly mobile and informed against the failed policies of the government. With exactly a month to general elections, such a trend shows that Pakistan may experience political shuffling this time around.