LAHORE - When other parties are getting ready for the by-elections, the PML-N has not even finalised candidates for 42 national and provincial assembly seats.By-polls on 16 National and 26 provincial assembly seats are scheduled to be held on August 22. There are seven National Assembly and 14 provincial seats of Punjab; five national and four provincial assembly seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; three national and five provincial seats of Sindh and one national and three provincial assembly seats of Balochistan where by-elections are to be held. For these 42 seats, 882 candidates have filed the nomination papers. The PML-N, along with its allies, has to defend more than 50 per cent seats.Understanding the value of by-polls to maintain and improve tally of seats gained in the general elections, PTI, JUI-F and ANP have finalised their candidates but the PML-N is yet to sift the candidates. Hundreds of party tickets aspirants have filed nomination papers and the parliamentary board has just begun the process to sort the potential ones out and recommend them to the high command for final decision. The current wave of price hike, loadshedding, unrest and public dissatisfaction is likely to be used as a handy campaign tool by the opponents to pay the N-League in the same way it did to the PPP in the last election. The party insiders say that after winning a heavy mandate, PML-N legislators are lobbying to get nomination for favourites in the by-polls. The eminent winners who vacated seats after winning from more than one constituency are: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, (vacated NA-68, Sargodha), Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif (NA-129 Lahore, PP-247 Rajanpur and PP-159 Lahore), PTI Chairman Imran Khan (NA-71 Mianwali and NA-1, Peshawar), PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz Sharif (PP-142, Lahore) Federal Minister for Interior Ch Nisar Ali Khan, (PP-7 Rawalpindi), PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi (NA-48, Islamabad), PTI Chief Minister Khyber PK, Pervez Khattak, (NA-5, Nowshehra), PTI Speaker Assembly Khyber PK, Asad Qaiser (NA-13, Swabi), Fareed Khan (PK-42, Hangu, who was assassinated on June 3), PML-F chief Pir Saddaruddin Rashidi (NA-235, Sanghar) Pakhtoonkwhan Milli Awammi Party chief Mahmood Khan Achekzai (NA-262, Qilla Abdullah-cum-Chamman), independent winner Jamshed Dasti (NA-171, Muzaffargarh), JUI-F Ameer Maulana Fazalur Rahman, (NA-25, DI Khan and NA-25, Lakki Marwat), PML-N’s Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar (PP-289), PML-N’s Maher Ishtiaq Ahmad (PP-150, Lahore), PML-N’s Khwaja Muhammad Asif (PP-123, Sialkot), JUI-F KPK President Akram Khan Durrani (PK-70, Bannu),  PML-N’s Mian Moeen Wattoo (PP-193, Okara), independent winner Jam Kamal Khan (PB-44, Balochistan), PPP’s Syed Ayaz Ali Shah Sherazi,  ANP’s Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, (PK-23, Mardan), PML-Q’s Moonis Elahi, (PP-118 Mandi Bahauddin), PPP’s Makhdoom Mustafa Mahmood (PP-292, Rahim Yar Khan) and PPP’s Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani (PS-16 Sindh). PK-27 got vacant after the killing of independent MPA Imran Mohmand, who later joined the PTI.The PML-N is confident of retaining the four city seats but a tough fight awaits it in the federal capital and KPK where the PTI is hoping to get one or two extra seats. In NA-129, the PTI is again pitting Chaudhry Mansha Sindhu while Rana Mubashir is the likely PML-N candidate. Mian Marghoob Ahmad, Khwaja Salman Rafiq, Hafiz Nauman may by nominated on the PA seats. On NA-48, Islamabad, the PTI has fielded Asad Umar while Anjum Aqeel Khan, Senator Zafar Ali Shah, Muhammad Hanif Abbasi, Chaudhry Ashraf Gujar and Sajjad Afzal Cheema are the aspirants for the PML-N nomination. Mian Muhammad Aslam has been fielded by JI while Faisal Sultan by the PPP. In NA-1 Peshawar ANP’s central leader Ghulam Ahmad Bilour is again in the arena after facing a rare defeat at the hand of Imran Khan. The PTI has fielded Gull Bacha, who was severely criticised from within the party.Jamshed Dasti, who has joined the PML-N, wants his brother Javed Dasti to contest on his vacant seat, NA-177. In NA-68, Sargodha, the PTI has named Nazeer Ahmad while the PPP retained Nusrat Ali Shah. On NA-71, Mianwali, Ayela Malik and Inamullah Niazi are aspirant of PTI’s nomination, while Haji Obaidullah Khan Shadikhel is vying for PML-N ticket. On PK-23, vacated by Ameer Haider Hoti, the PTI has again fielded Umar Farooq Kakakhel, while Nawabzada Umar Farooq Khan Hoti, son of former federal minister Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti, wants to contest for the PML-N. From NA-13, which was vacated by PTI’s Asad Qaiser, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has also filed nomination papers. The PTI has again awarded ticket to Adil Nawaz khan, for contesting PK-27 while JI’s Fazal Rabbani and Jamshed Mohmand brother of the slain MPA will also contest the by-polls. Jamshed is enjoying the support of all major parties including the PML-N. In order to retain both NA seats, the JUI-F wants the PML-N support in NA-25 (DI Khan-cum-Tank) and NA-27 (Lakki Marwat) from where Fazl’s son Maulana Asad Mehmood and brother Maulana Ataur Rehman are contesting the by-elections. In NA-25 (DI Khan-cum-Tank) PTI candidate and runner up in the last election, Dawar Khan Kundi and PPP’s Faisal Karim Kundi are expected to contest.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 12-Jul-2013 here.