Waqas Shabbir |
The inclusion of former senior PPP politician, Nadeem Afzal Chan, in Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) may have consolidated the position of the latter in central Punjab, due to family’s strong clout in local politics, but it does not guarantee victory in the National Assembly (NA)-64.
Following the tide in favor of PTI, many politicians have shunned the political ideology of their former parties to embrace PTI’s ideology. Does it make a difference, apparently not? This switch is more to do with short-term goals at the expense of long-term development which was slow, but possible under the leadership of PPP’s inspiring young leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
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Chan, for instance, is aware of his short-term chances in the polls, but alas, they are not really too high. His position in the constituency is fragile. He may have won the 2008 general election in NA-64. But, it was a very closely fought election. Chan secured 65,628 votes against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s candidate, Muhammad Farooq Baha-ul-Haq Shah who gained 60,460 votes. The margin of victory was not considerable, and even the third-placed PML-Q candidate- Haroon Ehsan Paracha was not far behind at 45,390 votes.
It was the first major breakthrough for Chan who was elected Tehsil Nazim from Malakwal in 2001. However, PPP’s performance in the center was terrible, and people expected the party to lose in 2013 general elections. Moreover, PML-N was in a strong position and gave the impression that all-important establishment was behind its back to defeat PPP and PTI challenge. The result may have come in favor of PML-N. Nevertheless, Chan did considerable development work in his constituency. New Sui gas connections were installed and electricity was provided in some villages. But, it was not enough to avert the catastrophic defeat for PPP in Punjab, especially. Chan was also the causality of PPP’s uncharacteristic performance and word of mouth, which was generally negative.
The margin of defeat for PML-N was not large in 2008, it managed to overcome the deficit and Chan was defeated comprehensively.
In 2013, PTI candidate was supported by the Paracha family which secured only 11,333 votes. Despite the fact that Inam-ul-Haq Paracha of PPP won by 69,815 votes in 2002. But, he was denied the ticket in 2008 elections. Another candidate Haroon Ehsan Piracha contested the election on PML-Q platform and secured 45,390 votes in 2008. Though the Paracha family enjoys the vote bank of 40,000 plus, it was unable to translate the support into votes in 2013 elections.
In 2013, PML-N’s Pir Muhammad Amin ul Hasnat Shah secured mammoth 1, 51,600 votes and Chan managed to secure marginally better votes as compared to 2008, nonetheless, was defeated decisively. Though, PTI emerged as a strong alternative, having seen PPP faded after dismissal 2008-2013 performance. But, was not able to generate enough votes, despite expected to score big.
Votes of Paracha family were diverted to PML-N candidate instead, despite the fact that the family won on PPP ticket in 2002.
Three factors played a big role in generating huge victory margin for PML-N- high turnout in NA-64, PPP’s performance in last 5-years and diversion of the historically third-placed candidate; [which contested the election on PPP and PML-Q seats before in 2002 and 2008, respectively] to PML-N rather than PTI.
Going into 2018 general elections, Chan may be a dedicated individual, who spends most of the time in the constituency and garners respect from the constituency. But, historically, PML-N remained relatively strong in NA-64. Chan’s defection to PTI will more likely switch more votes to him. But, it must be remembered that Waseem Abbas Pakistan of PTI only secured 11,800 votes in 2013. Even if Chan manages to get these votes, unless, he does not get as support from the third force-[which in this case are swing voters, which moved from PPP (2002) to PML-Q (2008) and to PML-N in 2013], victory will be difficult. Despite having a strong political clout in local politics in central Punjab, Chan from Gondal family may struggle in 2018 elections.
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But, according to sources, Pir Muhammad Amin ul Hasnat Shah’s current position in the area is not strong, and it is also unlikely that Paracha family will support PML-N. After Chan’s switch, apparently, the family might field its win candidate from PPP platform, as it did in 2002, which could be decisive and may make things difficult for Chan.
Given the precarious position of Shah, and PTI’s emergence as a much-favored party among electable, it might pave way for Chan, but, it’ll be a tightly contested election.
Waqas Shabbir is a Derby Business School graduate in Finance, currently working as a freelance writer. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect GVS editorial policy.