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Pundits predict repeat of voting patterns from 2013 election

Pundits predict repeat of voting patterns from 2013 election

RAWALPINDI: The results of the cantonment board elections are likely to be a reflection of the results of the 2013 elections with Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N and Imran Khan’s PTI emerging as the two strongest parties.

Almost all major political parties are participating in the elections, but a real contest is only expected between the two main rivals. Even though the PPP has fielded a number of candidates, observers say its half-heartedly run campaign would not yield much electoral success.

Elections will be held in the two cantonment boards, which consist of areas that fall under three National Assembly constituencies, NA-52, NA-54 and NA-56, as well as five provincial assembly constituencies.

In the 2013 general elections, PML-N won NA-52, where Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was the successful candidate, and NA-54 where Malik Abrar was victorious.

The party also won PP-14, but that seat does not fall into the area covered by the cantt boards. All the rest of the seats in the district were claimed by the PTI, including Imran Khan’s own NA-56 seat.

A cursory visit to any ward in these cantonment areas plainly shows the dominance of the two parties in this area. PPP and JI posters can be seen in some areas, but they are few and far between. Even the election offices of the PPP candidates failed to attract voters.

Former District Nazim Raja Tariq Kiani said that the results of the last elections, combined with the current political climate, meant that these elections were also a two-horse race between the PML-N and PTI. “PPP failed to field candidates in all 20 wards and left six wards open to independent candidates,” he said.

Former PPP City President and Senator Sardar Saleem, who has not been politically active as of late, told Dawn that the party should have fielded the candidates in all wards and should have completed their homework, but the main leadership was not interested in improving the image of the party which had been damaged over the five years it had been in government at the centre.

PTI Punjab North General Secretary Zahid Kazmi told Dawn that the PTI was targeting PML-N as their main contenders He said that PML-N had fielded old faces in the cantt elections, but the PTI came with new faces and nobody could raise a finger against their characters.

The PML-N too is cognisant of the challenge posed by the PTI and over the last two weeks, their campaign seemed aimed at answering all the allegations Imran Khan levelled against them and also included their own counter allegations against the PTI’s performance and its sit-in outside Parliament House.

“We will defeat the PTI in the cantonment elections with the support of the people. Let’s be fair, PTI is the main challenger as PPP is not even in the contest and JI has no public support,” said PML-N former MNA Malik Shakil Awan.

“We have experienced people like Chaudhry Tanveer Ali Khan who know how to win cantonment elections. He was elected vice president in the 1998 elections and before him, the PML-N supported candidates elected members from the 80’s to late 90’s,” he said.

Meanwhile, local PPP leaders were in distress and wanted to show their presence in the local government elections to mobilise their workers. “Yes, we admit that the party is not in a good position in all the wards but, we can may be able to put up a fight in certain areas,” said PPP city chapter spokesman Shujaat Haider Naqvi.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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