KHANEWAL - An overview of the results of elections held in the past reveals that district Khanewal remained a stronghold of the PML-N and religious parties. However, with new voters’ lists and awareness regarding importance of votes, a considerable increase in voters’ turnout is expected in the forthcoming general elections thereby affecting the poll results.

A survey shows that in all the constituencies of Khanewal, the PML-N, PPP and PML-Q candidates will be on neck and neck in the general elections and it will be very difficult for the PTI to get victory.

The population of Khanewal is about 2.3 million and according to the Pakistan Election Commission data, registered voters in the district are 1.279 million (male voters 0.728 million and female voters 0.551 million).

It is one of the important districts of South Punjab as a number political big guns belonged to the area such as Syed Fakhar Iman, former speaker of the National Assembly, Ghulam Haider Wyne (late), Major Aftab Ahmad Khan Daha, former federal parliamentary secretary, Maj (r) Riffat Hayat Khan Daha, Pir Qamar Zaman Shah, Sardar Allah Yar Hiraj and Peer Sanaullah Bodlha. It consists of four National Assembly constituencies - NA-156, NA-157. NA-158 and NA-159 - that are further divided into PP-212, PP-213, PP-214, PP-215, PP-216, PP-217, PP-218, and PP-219 areas.

In the 2008 general elections, PML-Q candidate Hamid Yar Hiraj was elected from NA-157 as MNA by defeating PML-N’s Muhammad Khan Daha and PPP’s Syed Faisal Imam. The result was challenged by Muhammad Khan Daha in the Election Commission and then in the Supreme Court but the objection was not accepted by the court.

All the political parties and independent candidates have started electioneering in the constituency and such activities are gaining momentum. The PML-N started their election campaign with a big public gathering that was addressed by PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz. A large number of politicians are struggling for their respective party tickets for the constituency. However, only the Jamaat-e-Islami has named Rao Irtifa ziaullah as its candidate for NA-157.

For the PML-N ticket for the constituency, Muhammad Khan Daha is a strong candidate while his uncle Haji Rizwan Ahmad Khan Daha and Dr Waqar Ahmad  Khan Daha, son of late Maj (r) Aftab Ahmad Khan Daha who have won the seat for five times consecutively, are also in the race. Dr waqar is hopeful for getting the party ticket because of his father’s role in the party.

The other would-be candidates are PML-Q’s MNA Hamid Yar Hiraj; Mujeeb Aslam Bandaysha from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Col (r) Abid Shah Khagga and Suhail Sikindar Daha from PTI. Hamid Yar’s father was former provincial Sardar Allha Yar Hiraj.

NA-157 comprises two Punjab Assembly constituencies PP-214 and PP-215. After the defection of four MPA’s Nishat Ahmad Khan Daha, Peer Jameel Shah, Rana Baber Japani and Zafar Abbas from the PPP, and of MPAs Haji Ghulam Jaffar Sargana, Aamir Hayat Hiraj and Ch Karam Dad, political scenario has changed. Now, from PP-214, PML-N’s Nishat Ahmad Khan Daha, Awam Dost Party’s Rao Abdul Ghaffar, PTI’s Rana Naveed Ahmad, Rana Saleem, PML-Q’s Imran Pervaiz Dhool, Rana Abdul Rehman and Dr Shafiqueur Rehman (independent) have sped up their political activities.

MPA Muhammad Yar Hiraj from PP-215 is candidate of the PML-Q for the upcoming election while former MPA Fazalur Rehman and PML-N’s Peer Hasnain Qureshi, PPP’s Muner Akber Hiraj, JI’s Nasrullah Nikiyana, PTI’s Ahmad Hassan and Wahab Sultan are making efforts for their respective party’s tickets.