LAHORE -  The National Assembly constituency of NA-130 (Lahore) is bracing for a tough but interesting contest between two old stalwarts of the PML-N and the PTI. 

PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood and Khawaja Ahmad Hassan of the PML-N are face to face for the second time in a clash of the titans next week. Shafqat Mehmood had defeated Hassan in 2013 elections by a narrow margin of around 7000 votes, but it is yet to be seen who emerges victorious this time. 

This was the only national seat won by the PTI from the provincial capital in 2013 elections as rest of the seats went to the PML-N.

In the previous elections, this electoral battle was fought on the pitch of NA-126 which has now been re-named as NA-130 as a result of the new delimitations.

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has fielded Liaquat Baloch from this constituency for the third time. PPP’s Khalid Mumtaz and Hafeezur Rehman of Tehreek-e-Labbaik are also in the run, but the major contest is likely between PTI and the PML-N candidates.   

In 2013 elections, PPP’s Syed Zahid Bokhari had obtained 2770 votes whereas Liaquat Baloch of Jamat-e-Islami secured 3226.

Interestingly, Liaquat Baloch was the frontrunner from this constituency in 2002 general elections, but he was then backed by the PML-N as a result of seat adjustment. He had then defeated Fakhar Zaman of the PPP by a wide margin of 30,000 votes. Tariq Bandey of the PML-Q and Shahid Siddique Khan of the PTI were only few hundred votes behind the runner-up.

Baloch was not in the contest in the general elections held in 2008 as his party had boycotted the polls under a dictator. Omer Sohail Zia Butt, a relative of Sharif brothers had then defeated Syed Hasnat Shah of the PPP.

Two provincial constituencies, PP-159 and PP-160 fall under the jurisdiction of NA-130. On PP-159, PTI’s Murad Raas, PML-N’s Tauseef Shah and PPP’s Mian Muhammad Aslam are in the race.

On PP-160, PTI’s Mehmoodur Rashid, PML-N’s Hafiz Mian Nauman and PPP’s Shakeel Ahmad Pasha are in the run.

In 2013, Mehmoodur Rashid and Murad Raas of the PTI had clichéd the two provincial seats then falling under old NA-126. They are in the run for the second time. A close contest is likely between Mehmoodur Rashid and Hafiz Nauman of the PML-N. 

After the new delimitations, NA-130 comprises mainly of the posh neighborhoods having all amenities of life. The areas falling under this constituency include: Gulberg, Model Town, Extension, New Garden Town, Muslim Town, parts of Faisal Town, parts of Allama Iqbal Town, Ichhra, Shadman and Wahdat Colony. Nonetheless, there are still few localities, not more than 10 per cent of the total area which do have problems like clean drinking water and sanitation.

PTI’s candidates from NA-130 and the provincial constituencies under it have numerous complaints against the previous PML-N government about being ignored in the allocation of development schemes. Shafqat Mehmood said that he did not get any development scheme for his constituency in the last five years. Nonetheless, PTI carried out development work in the least developed areas out of the party funds, he said.

Dr Murad Raas said that instead of spending development funds in the least developed areas, the government poured the money in the developed areas. He claimed that some roads were re-build in Muslim Town, Faisal Town and Garden Town areas without any drainage system. According to him, the people in these localities were facing drainage problems due to faulty planning.”The road contractor has placed all the debris along the paved roads and now the rainwater enters the houses,” he alleged.

Dr Raas also said that PTI had installed over 50 water filtration plants in Makka Colony and Nawaz Sharif Colony from its own resources.