LAHORE –  The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has decided not to pit Imran Khan against former premier Nawaz Sharif in the general elections from the provincial capital constituency of NA-120, a PML-N fiefdom. 

It has been learnt that PTI’s central parliamentary board has cleared Khan’s name for NA-126 seat and may also launch him from the constituency of NA-122 after some considerations. If Khan does not contest for NA-122 seat, Mian Usman Akram will, sources in the PTI told The Nation on Wednesday.

They said in order to do some damage the board was considering pitting party president Javed Hashmi against former premier Sharif for election to NA-120. “Although this constituency has been left open, the board has been thinking of fielding Javed Hashmi against Nawaz Sharif,” the sources added. The other constituency Hashmi will be fighting for is NA-118.

Nevertheless Imran Khan will also be contesting on NA-71 Mianwali, NA-56 Rawalpindi and NA-1 Peshawar seats for which he is being considered a heavyweight. The other candidates expected to be launched from the NA-119 Lahore constituency by the PTI are Waqar Ahmed and Usman Gujjar. They both come from PTI’s student wing, the Insaf Students’ Federation.

For the NA-121 seat, the PTI is counting on the star appeal of Hammad Azhar. Hamid Miraj will be PTI’s first choice for NA-123, while Jamshed Iqbal Cheema is expected to vie for the constituency of NA-124.

With Khan himself contending on NA-126 seat, name of Shahid Zulfikar or Aleem Khan can be chosen for PTI ticket for the constituency of NA-125. Shafqat Mehmood, PTI’s central spokesman, is expected to contest election for NA-127. Other possibilities for this National Assembly seat were Dr Yasmin Rashid and Aleem Khan.

Sources said Shafqat Mehmood might be awarded the ticket for NA-125 instead of NA-127, while Aleem Khan could be party candidate for NA-127. Zaheer Abbas Khokhar and his uncle Karamat Khokhar are PTI’s choices from NA-128, while Nawaz Awan and Mansha Sandhu are among the party probable from NA-129. PTI central parliamentary board sources said that Talib Sandhu, Hamid Sarwar and Usman Hamza were at party’s disposal for NA-130 seat. The board under the chairmanship of Imran Khan is pondering upon the right choices for Lahore, which is considered a PML-N political bastion, besides the other constituencies of Punjab and other provinces since March 26.

Meanwhile, NA-140-Kasur, a tie constituency between the two former foreign ministers, Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali, has been decided in favour of Kasuri by the parliamentary board. The PML-N had secured 11 out of 13 seats of the National Assembly in the general elections of 2008, while the PPP bagged two seats.

PML-N’s Muhammad Riaz Malik secured NA-118 seat in the 2008 polls; Hamza Shahbaz Sharif reached Parliament by getting NA-119; Bilal Yasin, NA-120; Mian Marghoob Ahmed, NA-121; Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, NA-122; Pervaiz Malik, NA-123; Rohail Asghar, NA-124; Khawaja Saad Rafique, NA-125; Umer Sohail Zia Butt, NA-126; Naseer Bhutta, NA-127 and Afzal Khokhar, NA-128.

The two PPP former parliamentarians bagged NA-129 and NA-130, while Tariq Shabbir Mayo and Samina Khalid Ghurki secured the seats respectively in the 2008 elections. Street-wisdom of the citizens say the PTI will give a tough time to the PML-N in NA-118, NA-121, NA-122, NA-123 and NA-126, and could even cause a collateral damage to either the PPP or PML-N in the NA-129 constituency.

Moreover, the PTI may stand victorious if its leaders succeed in bringing new and undecided voters to the polling station. The citizens are of the view that Imran Khan and Javed Hashmi can win from the provincial metropolis if they apply a smarter and unique electoral strategy on the lines of its public meetings at Minar-e-Pakistan.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 28-Mar-2013 here.