LAHORE - More than 16 political groups pledged support to PTI’s candidate in NA-122, a constituency vital for the political future of PTI and PML-N.

Religio-political groups, under the umbrella of Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), at a meeting with PTI Punjab Organiser Chaudhry Sarwar yesterday, pledged their support for Khan’s candidate in the constituency.

The PML-Q, a Muslim League faction, led by Chaudhrys of Gujrat, and Jamaat-e-Islami also formally announced their backing for PTI in the by-election. Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen and JUP-Niazi were also among the 16 parties that promised to back Aleem Khan of PTI.

The Lahore by-election which is the focus of the entire national media is highly important for both PML-N and PTI. The election result will prove politically detrimental to the loser.

Khan’s charisma will shatter and he may not be able to throw challenge on the ruling party if his candidate loses the battle of Lahore. Beating the ruling party in its stronghold can bring success for PTI in the upcoming local bodies’ polls.

Similarly, losing this seat by the PML-N can deprive the leadership of its claim of hold over Lahore. If they lose Lahore, they can become politically vulnerable in other urban centres of Punjab.

The Sunni Ittehad Council, an amalgam of the parties of Brelvi schools of thought, carries in its wings only two or three groups which have small support pockets in NA-122. JUP-Niazi which is a part of SIC has no political significance anymore.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, led by Sahibzada Hamid Raza, also SIC chief and Sunni Tehreek, has the only two parties with support pockets in the constituency.

A group of SIC founding members, under the command of Allama Pir Mehfooz Mashahdi, has already parted ways with this coalition.

The PML-Q whose Lahore president Mian Munir was elected from NA-122 is running the campaign of Imran’s candidate and will muster some support for Aleem Khan.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha, PML-Q central spokesman, told The Nation that Imran Khan met with Mian Munir at his residence on the first leg of his tour when he launched the by-poll campaign on September 30.

Mian Munir, with the consent of the party’s top leadership, has kicked off drive to muster support for Imran’s contender.

Agha claimed Munir, being a former MNA from NA-122 and a native of the constituency, would definitely get moderate number of votes for PTI.

The Lahore Jamaat-i-Islami president claimed, quoting figures of government-led surveys, his party had 17 percent votes in NA-122. If this is the case, Jamaat-i-Islami can make a great deal of difference regarding the outcome of October 11 by-election.

Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, a religious group of Shia school of thought that enjoys support in Shadman, Ichhra and Samanabad, also pledged support to Imran’s candidate.

Jamia Naeemia and Jamia Ashrafia, two important madaris systems, belonging to Barelvi and Deobandi schools of thought, respectively, also fall under the limits of NA-122 and are supporting the ruling party. They have been traditionally voting for PML-N because of its top leadership’s close political ties with the two.

At the same time, some important Barelvi and Shia groups, including JUP-Noorani, have also promised support for the ruling party.