LAHORE - Ending their months long hectic and the most expensive campaign, different groups of lawyers are poised for the Punjab Bar Council elections today (Saturday) when polling for 75 seats is scheduled to be held in all the districts of the province. Around 60,000 lawyers will elect their representatives for next five years amongst 290 candidates while in Lahore 61 candidates are in the run for 16 slots. In the metropolis, massive arrangements have been made for the polling to be held at premises of newly constructed judicial complex from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Chief Justice LHC Khawaja Muhammad Sharif has already announced holiday in courts while judicial officers are directed to supervise the polls. Professional Group led by Hamid Khan, Arian Group headed by Mian Israr-ul Haq and Jatt Group led by Ashraf Wahla is the contest. Caste loyalties have always been an important factor in the lawyers politics but this time, it seemed, heavy spending have overshadowed everything as a large number of candidates hosted sumptuous breakfasts, luncheons and dinners during the campaign on daily basis. All the candidates started campaigning six months prior to the polls to muster up support from over 18,000 voters of the Lahore Division. Generally, candidates rely on professionalism, personal contacts, potential to address the problems being faced by the community and acumen to line up the lawyers on government policies, particularly on democracy, independence of judiciary and supremacy of the constitution. But this time around, all these factors are missing as not a single candidate or group has given its manifesto. Arrange a big lavishing lunch or dinner and the candidates rating starts to go up, has become the order of the day. Display of big posters and banners also featured the elections in a complete contrast to what was practiced previously. Advocate General Punjab Chief Election Commission Muhammad Hanif Khatana admitted that all these activities were sheer violation of Legal Practitioner and Bar Councils Act 1974 but expressed his inability to take action against any candidate. Although political affiliations count but this is not all a candidate benefits from as voters mainly go after their own choice, rising above their political liking or disliking. As for the political parties, they show their interest in the bar is to create a pocket for themselves in the community. PML-N has issued a list of 14 candidates for Lahore seats while Peoples Lawyers Forum has announced lesser number of candidates. The candidates as such drive their campaign from the community point of view and not the political one. As far as mindset of the lawyers is concerned, it will remain uncompromising with the dictatorship. As far as Lahore is concerned, independent political analysts say it is very hard to pick 16 winners out of 61 candidates. However, they guess only six or seven candidates of Hamid Group could win including Nasim Riaz Gorsi, Ch Zulfiqar Ali, Ghulam Sarwar Nihung, Ch Iqbal Ahmed, Ch Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, Ch Muhammad Anwar and Muhammad Shahid Maqbool. Burhan Moazzam Malik, who was topper in previous election, seemed to be in hot water mainly due to snobbish attitude while Ghazala Khan has also failed in picking up momentum during her campaign. Political pundits have also criticised Professional Group strategy of giving 16 names for as many seats in Lahore. They thought Hamid Khan has left no room to negotiate with smaller groups. Had he left two or three seats open, his candidates might be in a better position to secure votes for small pockets. Arian group has also nominated nine candidates of which Chaudhry Babar Waheed, Noman Qureshi, Awais Qazi, Rai Bashir and Arshad Jahangir Jhoga are considered to be in commanding position. Judicial Activism Panel headed by Muhammad Azhar Siddique along with other small groups have given 23 names for elections. They are Azhar Latif, Amjad Farooq Bismal, Arshad Jahangir Jhoga, Israr Elahi Malik, Azmat ullah Chaudhry, Ch Babar Waheed, Rai Bashir Ahmed, Ghazala Khan, Ghulam Murtaza Chaudhry, Ch Imran Masood, Shamim-ur-Rehman Malik, Mubariz Malhi, Ch Ishtiaq Ahmed, Maqsood Buttar, Mian Saeed, Shahid Maqbool Sheikh, Tahir Shahbaz, Mushtaq Mohal, Rana Nasarullah Khan, Noman Qureshi, Tahir Nasar ullah Warraich, Tayyab Ramzan Ch, Syed Zafar Abbas Gilani, Zahid Hussain Malik, Ch Zulfiqar Ali and Sardar Abdul Hameed Dogar. This is the first PBC election after the launching and later success of lawyers movement; therefore, the candidates who have been supporting the movement are seen confident for their victory.