­LAHORE - Led by Malik Shafi Numberdar, the Khokhar family of Samsani Johar Town made entry into politics in late 90s and successfully got elected its first MPA in 2002’s general elections.

Malik Afzal Khokhar, under guidance of his elder brother Malik Shafi, then never looked back. He won the seat of National Assembly in 2008 and then in 2013 polls on PML-N ticket, beating another stalwart of the area, Malik Karamat Khokhar, the old PPP guard who later along with his nephew Zaheer Abbas Khokhar joined the PTI. Karamat and Zaheer are Khokhars from Shadiwal Johar Town.

It was Afzal versus Karamat at NA-128 (Now 135) and Zaheer versus Saiful Malook (another elder brother of Afzal) at PA-160 (Now 161) in 2013. The PML-N candidates won both seats with a close margin and amid allegations of massive rigging by opponents.

It is now Saif versus Karamat at NA-135 while Saif’s son Faisal Ayub is candidate at PP-161 on PML-N ticket and Shafi’s son Irfan Shafi got replacement of Maryam Nawaz (daughter of PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif) who was candidate at PP-173 but disqualified to contest polls in Panama episode.

PP-161 and PP-173 fall under NA-135 and PTI also launched two strong Khokhars, Malik Nadeem Abbas and Malik Sarfraz, against Faisal and Irfan respectively.

Hanjarwal, Niazbeg, Rasoolpura, Johar Town, Lalazar, Ali Town, Nawab Town, Canal View and a number of housing societies stretched along both sides of Raiwind Road form the constituency. Since the area comprised posh localities which traditionally considered PTI’s strongholds, many locals give Karamat edge over Saif. Karamat is considered a thorough gentleman and enjoys a good reputation in the area against the Shafi family whom political opponents dub as land grabbers and property mafia. Saif is also facing NAB inquiries in some corruption charges.

But, the victory is not as easy for Karamat, Nadeem and Sarfraz as some PTI supporters claim. The active trio of father-son-nephew (Saif, Faisal, Irfan) when set out for election campaign from the Khokhar Palace (a house of 56 kanal near Shaukat Khanum Hospital where the family shifted few years back from their old residence in Samsani), voters in a large number can be seen around them. The elder Khokhar, Malik Shafi, is also making hectic efforts to regain the constituency. He has been leading the political activities of the area from Khokhar Palace for years. He not only knows personally every prominent individual and nook and corner of the constituency, but is also considered an active social personality of the area. Afzal, Saif developed close relations with Sharifs with a passage of time and carried out different development projects in area. Another factor which goes in favour of Saif is that Karamat’s nephew Zaheer who was active in his uncle’s political campaign in previous polls is now focusing in NA-134 where he is a PTI candidate against strong PML-N’s man Rana Mubashir Iqbal.

Around 12 villages of Khokhars fall mostly in NA-135 (few in NA-136) will also play an important role in victory of candidate on July 25. 

Malik Afzal, twice MNA once MPA, is considered the most active and humble politician of the area. It is Afzal who materialised his brother Malik Shafi’s dream to become most influential and powerful family of the area.

Afzal is now shifted to NA-136— the last constituency of Lahore, the old NA-129 from where PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had contested polls in 2013 and won against PTI’s Mansha Sandhu. The Sharif Family’s permanent residence in Jati Umara (Raiwind) also lies in limits of NA-136.

The PTI fielded a strong Khokhar, Malik Asad Ali, against Afzal. Malik Asad’s family (Khokhars of Chung) also enjoys a good following in area. His brother was elected unopposed chairman of Chung UC.

PP-171 and PP-172 fall under NA-136 where PTI fielded Rana Javed Umar and Ch Khalid Gujjar against PML-N Colonel (rtd) Rana Tariq and Mirza Javed respectively.

The NA-136 is perhaps the most controversial constituency of Lahore where PTI and PML-N faced tough challenge in awarding of tickets. Khalid Gujjar who was named PTI tiger by Imran Khan had revolted against Malik Asad nomination and Abdul Ghafoor Mayo turned against Sharifs on picking Malik Afzal.

Although Khalid after Imran Khan’s personal intervention later settled differences with Asad and is contesting at PP-172, Ghafoor Mayo, who served as provincial minister in 2008-13 after elected MPA from area, is up against all PML-N candidates in NA-136.

Locals say Khalid Gujjar has edge over Mirza Javed, who has no past experience of contesting elections but was awarded ticket due to his personal closeness with Nawaz Sharif. Abdur Rashed Bhatti and Safdar Mayo were PML-N ticket aspirants for PP-172 but now are contesting as independent candidates. Both will create dent in PML-N vote bank and give favour to Khalid who contested polls against Shehbaz Sharif from the then PP-161 now PP-171 and lost with a small margin. A tough contest is expected between PTI’s Rana Javed Umar (son of old PPP guard Rana Umar Daraz) and PML-N’s Rana Tariq in PP-171.

The NA-136 comprised Chung, Manga Mandi, Raiwind, small and large villages. Afzal took credit of establishment of hospital in Raiwind, construction of roads and installation of water filtration plants in villages. He claims victory with big margin against Malik Asad who is trying his luck first time in polls. But, Asad is taking full advantage of MPA candidates under him who enjoy a good support of their clans, Gujjars and Rajputs.

Malik Asad also won the support of some vital union council chairmen in his favour.

Gujjar, Mayo and Rajputs are major castes settled in NA-136. But a good number Jats, Arains and Khokhars also live in the area. Together, they will announce decision in favour of PML-N or PTI on polling day.