ISLAMABAD - For the first time in the political history of Pakistan, a sizable number of bigwigs - mostly former parliamentarians - are testing their political muscles independently in the upcoming July elections.

Unlike the previous general elections, these political stalwarts contesting elections in Punjab as most of them recently left their political parties to try their luck independently.

A sudden change of mind by a large number of former lawmakers is also a rare happening in the political history of the country. Nearly a two-dozen of erstwhile parliamentarians having old association with the political parties will contest on their own electoral symbols against their previous parties, a research carried out by The Nation revealed.

Among these former parliamentarians, a seasoned politician Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan from Chakri having a decades-old association with the PML-N is the most prominent name to contest the July polls as an independent candidate on the electoral symbol of ‘Jeep’.

Zaeem Qadri, another former member of PML-N, recently parting ways with his political party is set to contest independently from Lahore.

Dr Hafeez Daraishak from Rajan Pur area has recently changed his mind and decided to contest elections independently from his area. He would face Nasrullah Daraishak from PTI and others.

From Jam Pur area, Sher Ali Gorchani is set to contest independently against Jafar Leghari from PTI and others. Likewise, Dost Muhammad Khosa from Taunsa Sharif has recently changed his mind and decided to contest independently. He would face another former legislator Khwaja Sheraz from PTI and others.

Sultan Muhammad Hanjra (NA-181) from southern Punjab area is facing former seasoned parliamentarian Mustfa Khar from PTI. Interestingly, his two nephews Ahmed Yar Hanjra and Ghulam Qasim Hanjra are contesting the elections from political parties from different constituencies. From Leyyah area, former MNA Bhadar Khan Sehar has recently announced to contest independently from his area. Sehar would contest against Majeed Niazi and Faizul Hassan Chohan.

In Multan, former federal minister from PML-N Sikandar Hayat Bosan will now contest as an independent candidate from his area to face Ahmed Hussain Dehar of PTI and Abdul Qadir Gilani of PPP.

In Rahim Yar Khan district, former PPP minister Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi will test his political muscles independently against Makhdoom Mubeen Alam of PTI and others. Another lawmaker Qaum Jatoi from NA-185 is set to contest independently from his area. He would contest against two close relatives Haroon Sultan (PML-N) and Zuhera Sultan Bokhari (PTI) from his area.

Former MNA Mansab Ali Dogar recently announced to contest independently  against Khurram Fareed Manaika

Some members of the recently-constituted Janoobi Punjab Sooba Mahaz (JPSM) movement, who could not get party tickets from their areas, are contesting independently on the provincial assembly. Alamdar Qureshi, Zeeshan Gormani, Murtaza Rahim Khokar are the members to contest independently from their areas. Zeeshan Gormani will contest against Niaz Gihkori from PTI and Engineer Bilal Khar from PPP.

Ayesha Nazir Jutt, another strong candidate from Vehri area, who recently withdrew PTI ticket, has decided to contest as an independent candidate.

Political analysts predict that in 2018 elections a great number of independent candidates would make their way into Parliament. The presence of a sizeable number of independent candidates in the next assembly may produce a hung parliament, wherein the independents may be in a position to exploit the things in their favour.

The size of independent candidates contesting election on the symbol of ‘Jeep’ may also increase in the coming days.

They also viewed  it is very unlikely that a single party gets a heavy mandate so these independent after winning could appear as a pressure group.