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By-election brings development windfall

LAHORE:

Though the fate of the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) candidates for the NA-133 by-elections still hangs in the air after rejection of their nomination papers, the government has initiated several development schemes in the constituency ahead of the polling.
Provincial and local authorities have dug several streets in the Township area for laying new water supply and sewerage lines.
A survey of the constituency showed that different government agencies are working simultaneously to complete the development work.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, several residents of the area highlighted that water and sanitation are major issues of their neighbourhood.
A citizen, Muhammad Sajjad, pointed out that obsolete water lines in their area have been contaminated by leaking sewerage lines. “We have complained to the authorities numerous times but in vain. Now, ahead of the polls, the government has initiated development work in the area.”
He said candidates and supporters of almost all political parties were knocking the doors for vote with a promise of solving people’s problems, but this time every voter would think twice before voting I view of the performance of the current rulers and their predecessors in governance and service delivery.
Another resident, Adnan Malik, disclosed that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had conducted survey in the constituency before starting the electioneering. He complained that the government did not pay any attention to the locality’s problems but ahead of the by-elections being held after three-and-half years it had started spending on public welfare projects in the area. “Now the people are aware and will choose the right candidate,” he maintained.
National Assembly seat NA-133 fell vacant after the demise of PML-N stalwart Pervaiz Malik and the by-elections are scheduled on December 5.
The PTI nominated Jamshed Iqbal Cheema and his wife Musarrat Cheema but their nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer over an anomaly.
Read Punjab wants NA-133 by-polls rescheduled
Jamshed Cheema challenged the returning officer’s decision before the election tribunal and now has filed a petition in the Lahore High Court for seeking relief. PML-N leader Naseer Bhutta had challenged the nomination of the PTI candidates.
The PML-N has nominated Shaista Pervaiz Malik, widow of Pervaiz Malik, while Pakistan Peoples’ Party is testing the water by giving the ticket to Aslam Gill.
Political activities, including corner meetings and public gatherings, are on the rise in the constituency. All parties have displayed their banners and posters.
Political pundits expect a tough competition between Shaista Pervaiz and Jamshed Iqbal, if he gets his nominations accepted by the commission. Otherwise, it is likely be a one-sided affair as the PML-N has a stronghold in the constituency.
Results of previous elections in NA-133 show that in 2002 Pakistan Awami Tahreek’s Dr Tahirul Qadri won by taking 24,949 votes, followed by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Aleem Khan with 20,000 and PML-N 18,000. In 2008, PML-N’s Naseer Bhutta bagged the seat by defeating PPP’s Muhammad Riaz with a margin of over 32,000 votes.
In 2013, PML-N’s Waheed Alam Khan won with over 100,000 votes, while PTI’s Nasrullah Mughal secured 45,000 and PPP’s Khurram Latif Khosa got only 6,000 votes. In 2018, once again the PML-N secured the NA-133 seat when Pervaiz Malik secured 89,699 votes. PTI’s Ejaz Chaudhry bagged over 77,000 votes and PPP’s Aslam Gill 5,000 votes. PML-N’s disgruntled leader Zaeem Qadri also got 1,953 votes in 2018.
The NA-133 has three provincial assembly constituencies and 21 union councils.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2021.

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