Why has Kulsoom left for London amid the run-up to the Lahore by-polls?

Kulsoom
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News Analysis |

The by-polls of the recently-vacated National Assembly seat, NA-120 are less than a month away. The seat which has been put up for grabs after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif will be vied by Dr. Yasmeen Rashid of PTI and former First Lady, Kulsoom Nawaz among other candidates. However, Kulsoom has left for London and will return a week after the polls.

PTI and PML-N will once again lock horns in an important constituency. The polls are important for both the parties. PTI wants to dispell the impression that it cannot defeat PML-N on the ballot boxes

Despite objections, apprehensions, and suspicions, Kulsoom Nawaz’s nomination papers were accepted so were those of her counterpart in Dr. Yasmeen Rashid. The PAT and PTI candidates had challenged her nomination papers saying the name of a disqualified person’s party could not be used in the election and her UAE Iqama (work permit) was not affixed with documents.

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An ill-timed Flight 

However, more than the mannerism through which her credentials were accepted, her flight to London has surprised one and all. The particulars of her return ticket show that she will return to Pakistan on 23rd September, almost a week after the polling day.

Political pundits have tipped this by-poll as highly important in more ways than one. It is not only important for the PML-N in general but the political relevance of the Sharif family pretty much hooks upon this seat. The failure to retain the seat will also significantly bolster Imran Khan and his PTI in multifarious ways; a victory in a PML-N fiefdom would do PTI a world of good. With so much at stake, the absence of Kulsoom is rather surprising, to say the least.

Kulsoom’s competitor in Dr. Yasmeen is leading a very vibrant and robust door-to-door campaign in the constituency. Kulsoom’s disappearance off the battlefield is most likely to impact the campaign and the result. Thus far the PML-N has not been actively campaigning in the constituency. Many believe that given the likelihood of tough ECP scrutiny, Kulsoom deemed it important to be off-radar.

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The quick scrutiny of Kulsoom’s nomination papers without looking at her Iqama has been criticized; it remains to be seen if her nomination papers are further looked into

Is the PML-N taking this by-poll as a calk-walk? If deliberations on the final candidates and Shahbaz Sharif’s refusal to contest are anything to go by one can easily make out that the seat is valued. Lackluster campaigning and the non-availability of the candidate can be looked at from a different dimension too.

Earlier this month, Dr. Yasmeen said that while she is out on the streets asking for votes, her counterparts are using government machinery to their advantage. She also said that while she is a hard-working Middle-Class lady, Kulsoom is from the ruling party.

PTI is sensitive to rigging, especially that which is done prior to the polls.At a time when the PML-N is more or less bruised due to the ouster of its deposed leader, a low profile electioneering campaign has raised many eyebrows. Critics may point out that why does Kulsoom need a campaign when the federal and provincial governments are those of the PML-N.

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The failure to retain the seat will also significantly bolster Imran Khan and his PTI in multifarious ways; a victory in a PML-N fiefdom would do PTI a world of good

Voters of NA-120 were seen protesting the relocation of their votes, something which PTI has touted since long.However, as such, no complaints have been presented to the Election Commission. The quick scrutiny of Kulsoom’s nomination papers without looking at her Iqama has been criticized; it remains to be seen if her nomination papers are further looked into.

PTI and PML-N will once again lock horns in an important constituency. The polls are important for both the parties. PTI wants to dispell the impression that it cannot defeat PML-N on the ballot boxes.

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