LAHORE - For the electorate in NA-122, development work carried out by the PML-N government in Lahore is the strongest point of Ayaz Sadiq vis-avis his rivals who don’t have any such thing to show to the public.
PTI candidate, Aleem Khan has the advantage of party chief Imran Khan leading his election campaign. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto are not in the field to support their respective party candidates .
The PPP candidate, Barrister Amir Hassan has the reputation of an educated and sophisticated person, and this is the only strong point he has compared to his rivals. Ironically, the PPP tag on his candidature is the weakest point for him in the election campaign. This has been revealed in a random survey conducted by The Nation in NA-122 to know how the voters look at the candidates and their parties.
Most of the PML-N supporters interviewed by The Nation said that PML-N had carried out a lot of development work in the City and this was the reason they were going to vote for its candidate. For them, loadshedding is an issue but they still want to vote for its candidate in the hope the problem would be resolved soon.
However, some shopkeepers at Ichhra Bazaar were not happy with the PML-N government over the imposition of withholding tax. For them, it was a big issue. “We are not going to vote for the PTI candidate but at the same time it is hard to support the PML-N candidate also”, said a shopkeeper who did not want his name to be known.
For most of the PTI voters , it was not Aleem Khan who is in the run. “It is PTI versus the PML-N. We have reservations against Aleem Khan but we are supporting him only because Khan is campaigning for him,” they said
Some of the voters , The Nation talked to, had no real inclination towards the PML-N but they had the intention to vote for its candidate Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. They had something very interesting to say: “Khan is not a religious person. His supporters from the posh localities are spoiling our children,“ Sheikh Noor Din told The Nation who also made it clear that he was not actually a PML-N supporter.
This public perception about Mr Khan runs counter to his another perception which is about his being a Taliban supporter. “It is Khan’s dilemma that some voters view him as a liberal person having nothing to do with the religion, while others look at him as a supporter of Taliban, who hold an extremist view of Islam”, commented a voter at Upper Mall who, otherwise, seemed least bothered about the electoral battle in NA-122.
Though the PTI is trying hard to make it “Imran versus Sharifs” affair but still some voters consider it a contest between Aleem Khan and Ayaz Sadiq, the survey also revealed.
A good number of people interviewed at Ichhra and Samanabad had reservations about Aleem Khan and other members of Imran’s team. “We do like Imran Khan as a leader but his present team cannot make a new Pakistan”, a group of youngsters at a tea stall opined. “We are not going to vote for the PTI candidate. We will rather prefer to stay at home and watch the contest on TV screen”.
For many poor voters in the constituency, Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital built by Khan has turned out to be his weak point. “The poor are not welcomed at his hospital. Provision of free treatment is also a farce”, said Javid Iqbal, a resident of Mian Mir locality of Lahore.
“Barrister Amir may be a nice person but the party he belongs to has leaders who have earned the reputation of being corrupt while in the government”, said Ghulam Mustafa who was performing duty as a watchman at a house in Upper Mall.