Islamabad  -  One of the permanent feature of Rawalpindi’s political arena, the ‘Dhamial House’ is going to fight its last battle in general elections 2018, which will ultimately decide the future of said political family having presence in parliamentary politics and power corridors for more than seven decades.

Muhammad Basharat Raja, a candidate running for a seat of provincial assembly from the constituency PP-14 expressed his satisfaction over his decision to join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), after which he got the party ticket.

“There is a wave of PTI supporters among the masses especially youth who are following the narrative of Imran Khan”, he told this scribe, adding: “When our traditional vote bank will be added to this wave, we would easily win this constituency.”  

Raja Ghulam Sarwar, the paternal uncle of Muhammad Basharat Raja became the district chairman of Rawalpindi in 1946, before independence.  Later, his father Raja Lal Khan also became a member of Provincial Legislative Assembly in 1951 and was then elected for the Membership of West Pakistan Assembly in 1956. 

Raja himself became the member of District Council Rawalpindi in 1979, 1983 and again in 1987 whereas he served as District Chairman twice in earlier terms. Later, he also successfully managed to reach the Provincial Assembly of Punjab in years 1990, 1993 and 1996.

In 1996, he had joined the provincial cabinet as a minister for law and parliamentary affairs in the second tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

However, the family switched its loyalties in Musharaf’s era and joined Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), and contested on two seats in general elections of 2002, but could not succeed. 

Mr. Raja was one of the most trustworthy aides of former Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who always shared the power by compensating Dhamial House. In response, they also stood thick and thin with ‘Chaudhrys of Gujrat’.

After facing defeat from Rawalpindi’s seat, Raja successfully managed to reach Punjab Assembly by contesting from a constituency of Gujrat, which was vacated by Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi after winning two seats.

The era was most glorious for Dhamial House, as during Mushraf’s regime, Mr. Raja had become the senior minister in Punjab, his brother Muhammad Nasir Raja was appointed advisor to the chief minister and his wife Pari Gul Agha had become Senator while in local government elections his first cousin Hamid Nawaz Raja also served as Town Nazim.

However, in 2008, he and his family faced a defeat on several national and provincial assembly seats but again thanks to the Chaudhry’s of Gujrat, Mr. Raja had become an advisor to the Prime Minister for the portfolio of Industries in 2011, under a coalition set-up between Pakistan People’s Party and PML-Q.

But he was defeated again in 2013 general elections and remained out of picture for the last five years.

It was also being considered in concerned quarters that the family will not be able to retain its presence on political arena in upcoming general elections.

However, the family has changed its way of politics and decided to contest from a single constituency by taking party ticket of PTI instead of PML-Q’s election symbol.

When questioned whether Raja has now finally parted his ways with Chaudhrys of Gujrat, he replied: “I have joined PTI but still I have huge respect for Chaudhry brothers and even they were with me in Islamabad till the finalisation of my ticket.”

Replying to a quarry regarding his comfort level in PTI where some of the backbenchers of Mushraf’s era like Ghulam Sarwar Khan are already adjusted, he told: “I know the fact but it’s our beginning with the party and I am confident that we will create our space in PTI.”

“I want to add that it’s only a matter of time otherwise I have been a District Chairman twice when Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Ghulam Sarwar Khan were only the members of district council”, Muhammad Bashart Raja recalled.

Explaining his strategy about the upcoming elections, he informed the Nation that most of the areas delimited in PP-14 are same as his previous provincial assembly constituency from which he had successfully won 3 elections.

“We have strong connections with the local political groups on ward level while the general voter of PTI would be an added benefit to win the elections”, he maintained while accepting: “PML-N’s candidate Usama Chaudhry is not an easy opponent because of his father Senator Chaudhry Tanveer’s ties in the area.”    

Constituency update

A total of 15 candidates are in the run including Muhammad Bashrat Raja of PTI, Usama Chaudhry of PML-N, Agha Mujeeb Ahmed Khan of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian (PPP) and some others while strong contest is expected between Usama Chaudhry and Muhammad Basharat Raja.

The constituency is mainly comprised of the areas of Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantonments while rest of the area belongs to Rawalpindi District.

Though, the ruling PML-N swept the local government election of both cantonment boards, the campaign of which was solely handled by Senator Chaudhry Tanveer Khan, it would not be as easy to win general elections from the constituency for PML-N.

Muhammad Basharat Raja will be able to concentrate fully on a single constituency while Usama Chaudhry could face difficulties due to his family’s direct participation in the elections of two other provincial assembly seats and a national assembly constituency.

However, both parties could face internal rifts because Mr. Raja snatched party ticket from outgoing MPA of PTI Mr. Asif Mehmood while Usama Chaudhry was awarded ticket by ignoring Chaudhry Ayaz Mehmood, who won the constituency twice in 2002 and 2008.



muhammad asad chaudhry