LAHORE- While some analysts think that PML-Q forward bloc in Punjab Assembly has become insignificant for the PML-N in a changed political situation, the statistics of 2008 elections however reveal that its reliance on estranged PML-Q legislators has increased manifolds.

It is evident from 2008 election results that PML-N lacks potential candidates of its own in at least 31 provincial constituencies previously won by forward bloc members who also insist that they were still relevant in the current scenario as the PML-N not only needed their ‘services’ during remaining period of its term, it would also rely on their candidates in the coming elections. 

The emerging situation wherein early polls seem a reality and the major political parties have also evolved consensus on contours of the interim set up in the form of 20th amendment, questions are being raised on the future of forward bloc in a fast changing political scenario.

Though some of the members, this scribe talked to, also feel dejected, disillusioned and betrayed by the PML-N leadership especially after being denied ministries, and of late the Senate ticket to one of their nominee, Mr Ejaz Shafi; majority of the legislators see their role in the future scheme of things. They said they were now eying the next elections forgetting about their grievances against the Punjab government.

The bloc was carved out of PML-Q when Governor’s Rule was imposed in Punjab in February 2009. Though Punjab government was later restored by the court, the group continues to keep its allegiance to the PML-N till date to ensure simple majority in Punjab Assembly.    

Sheer Ali, one of the members of the said group, also disagrees with the view that forward bloc has lost its relevance. “We shall remain relevant at least till passage of the coming Punjab budget and even in the coming elections”, he said, adding, “If Punjab govt is to sustain and get the budget passed then they need us”. He said many of the forward bloc members would be playing important role in coming elections because the PML-N would need them as candidates in constituencies where they won the election defeating a PPP candidate and where their own candidate came at number three position.

Dr Tahir Ali Javed, head of the group, complained that they had not been compensated in Punjab commensurate to their sacrifices. He said some of his colleagues were remorseful of their decision to join the forward bloc as they believed they have got nothing except embarrassment.

But the fact remains that some influential legislators among these hold sway over matters of postings and transfers of SHOs, Tehsildars and Patwaris in their constituencies. Besides, many of them have also been given development funds to please their voters.

Out of 47 group members, seven have been elected on seats reserved for women; hence they won’t be getting PML-N tickets on general seats.

Of the promised 40 seats to members of the unification bloc, 31 are such where the PML-N needs potential candidates out of its own compulsions. It would have to have to rely on them to defeat the candidates of PPP, PML-Q and the PTI in these constituencies where most of its candidates secured less than 10,000 votes in last elections. 

Here is a brief account of 31 constituencies previously won by members of the PML-Q forward bloc and where the PML-N needs them as potential candidates.

PP-17 Attock-III: Sher Ali of forward bloc won from this constituency, securing 41409 votes as against 24305 of PML-N’s Sardar Muhammad Ali in last election. Haji Ishtaq of PPP stood third with 40691 votes. PP-28 Sargodha-I: Mukhtar Ahmed Bharath of the same group who got 45686 votes while contesting against PML-N’s Muhsan Shah who secured only 6376. Haji Mushtaq Ahmed Gondal of PPP also gave dismal performance securing 19477 votes. PP-58 Faisalabad-VIII:Shahid Khalil of forward bloc won from PP-58 obtaining 21773 votes as against Rana Naeem of PML-N. Maqbool Ahmad Fatiana of PPP was the runner up with 20544 votes. PP-61-Faisalabad-XI: Dildar Ahmad Cheema of forward bloc gained victory with 24669 votes while Mahmood Goraya of PML-N ended up securing 17547 in 2008. Gul Ahmad Mahota of PPP got 20793 votes. PP-75-Jhag-III: Anwar Sipra of forward bloc obtained 24298 as against 9969 of Sarfaraz Jappa of PML-N. PPP’s Nawaz Bharwana, and an independent candidate got 19916 and 21296 votes respectively. PP-76 Jhang-IV: Mehr Sultan Sikandar Bharwana won this seat bagging 23759 votes, while Fareed Naoul of PML-N got 16880. Nawab Khurram Abbas of PPP was the runner up with 17980 votes.

PP-77 Jhang-IV: Dr. Abu-ul-Hassan Ansari of PML-N was placed at number three position in last elections with 5235 votes only. Yaqub Sheikh of PML-Q’s forward bloc got 36486 votes. Zafar Abbas of PPP stood second with 33554. PP-78 Sargodha: Mubashir Abbas Warraich of PMl-N got 5084 votes only as against Mehmood Sargana of forward loc who obtained 27286 and won the elections. Two independent candidates- Lt. Col.(R) Ghazanafar Abbas and Zahoor Sajid also performed well in this constituency securing 22808 and 23809 votes respectively. PP-101 Gujranwala XI: No PML-N candidate was in the run from here in 2008 elections. Khalid Parvaiz Virk of PML-Q’s forward bloc won the seat getting 26885 votes. PP-102 Gujranwala-XII: Again, no PML-N candidate contested last election from PP-102. Bashir Gujjar of forward bloc with 26992 votes was the winner. Rafaqat Gujjar, an independent candidate was the runner up with 26749 votes. PPP’s Sarfraz Khan got 20317. PP-133 Narowal-II: Dr. Tahir Ali Javed, the ring leader of forward bloc, won this seat securing 27508 votes. Waqar Chaudhary of PML-N got 13704. PP-181-Kasur: Sheikh Alaud Din gained victory securing 20401 votes. Kanwar Mumtaz of PPP was the runner up with 17527 votes. Jahangir Majra of PML-N obtained 11106. PP-187 Okara-III: Syed Raza Ali Gillani of forward bloc obtained 30233 votes as against 6735 of PML-N’s Rao Safdar. PP-189 Okara-V: Nadeem Abbas Rabera of forward bloc got 33298 votes in last elections while Ali Jewika of PML-N bagged 15374. Rao Khalid Khan of PPP got 18277 votes. PP-204 Multan-XI: Rana Ejaz Ahmad Noon of forward bloc won the seat getting 32704 votes. Nawab Nadeem-ud-Din of PML-N could secure only 7000. Khurram Fareed of PPP got 22376 votes. PP-205 Multan-XII: No PML-N candidate contested last election from here. PML-N will have to rely on Mehdi Abbas of forward bloc who won last election obtaining 35739 votes. Abbas Khakhi, an independent candidate, got 29523 votes and was the runner up in the contest. 

PP-206 Mulatn-XIII: Naghma Mushtaq Lang of forward bloc who won last election securing 28109 votes will be sure candidate of PML-N from this constituency. Barrister Syed Najaf Hussain of PML-N got only 4632 votes and she is not in a position lay claim on the seat. Akram Kanhoon, an independent candidate was the runner up with 26528 votes.PP-210 Lodhran-V: Rafi-ul-Din Bukhari of forward loc with 31734 votes in last elections is likely to be in the run from here, this time on PML-N ticket as  Tahir Ghori of the latter got only 6147 votes in 2008. Rana Aslam of PP was the runner up with 25077 votes. PP-211 Lodhran-V: Ahmed Khan Balouch of forward bloc with 32012 votes in last contest is likely to get PML-N ticket this time as Rao Nasir of PML-N obtained 1104 votes only in 2008.  Captan(R) Izat Javid of PPP was the runner up with 31403 votes. PP-212 Khanewal-I: Jaffar Sargana now part of forward bloc who got 36391 votes and won is most likely to get PML-N ticket this time. Ali Akbar of PML-N performed poorly in last election as he ended up securing only 6247 votes as against his main rival Mukhtar Hussain Shah of PPP who secured 31585. PP-220 Sahiwal-I: Peer Walayat Shah Khagha of forward bloc won this seat securing 24880 votes defeating Mehr Nazar Fatiana of PML-N who got 16522. Peer Mazhar Shah Khagha of PPP secured 11081.PP-222 Sahiwal-III: Jalal ud Din Dhakku of forward bloc won the seat with 23249 votes as against 19896 of Amjad Shah of PPP. Arshad Malik of PML-N got 16590. PP-225 Sahiwal-VI: Miss Catherine Nazeer with only 1706 votes to her credit will easily relinquish the seat for Muhammad Arshad, the winner of 2008 elections who got 36398 votes while contesting on PML-Q ticket. Rai Murtaza, an independent candidate, obtained 32216. PP-227-Pakpattan-I: Khalid Saeed of PML-N with 17427 votes in 2008 will have to withdraw in favour of Atta Maneka of the forward bloc who got 36595 votes.PP-231 Pakpattan-V: Qamar-ul-Zaman of PML-N with 15613 votes will make room for Kashif Ali Chishty  (26790 votes) of the said bloc. PP-241 DG Khan-II: Muneer Sabir of PML-N secured only 4506 votes in the last contest. Fatah Muhammad Buzdar of the said group with 25759 votes may be a new PML-N nominee from here.

PP-251-Muzaffargarh-I: Aslam Hinjra who got only 11699 votes last time is likely to make room for Ahmed Yar Hinjra of the forward bloc who won the seat securing 19913 votes. Yousaf Hinjra of PPP was runner up with 14269 votes. PP-255 Muzaffargarh-V: Khaliq Khar of PML-N with only 2583 votes lost to Kamran Khar of forward bloc who got 21835 votes. He was closely followed by Nawazish Kalandrani, an independent candidate and Mehboob Akhtar of PPP who got 21485 and 21071 votes respectively. PP-256 Muzaffargarh-VI: Amjad Ali of PML-N obtained only 4095 votes in the last electoral battle. Imran Qureshi (22842 votes) of forward bloc seems to be PML-N aspirant in the coming elections as per party policy. PP-267 Bahawalpur-I: Amir Ali Shah with 9233 votes is likely to withdraw in favour of Makhdoom Iftikhar Gillani of forward bloc who won the seat securing 23578 votes. PP-290 Rahimyar Khan-VI:  Sabir Ali of PML-N who bagged 12189 votes will be asked to support Ejaz Shafi of the said political group. Shafi obtained 24751 votes in last contest followed by

Dr. Sohail Wahid of PPP who remained unlucky as he got 24520 votes, around 200 votes less than the winner.