GUJRANWALA -A tough contest is expected in NA-95 constituency among Usman Ibrahim (PML-N), Ali Ashraf Mughal (PTI) and Ch Muhammad Siddique (PPP) on the elections day.

Usman Ibrahim is former MNA while Ali Ashraf and Ch Muhammad Siddique are contesting for the first time. The political parties’ popularity and support of different castes with Ansari, Araeen, Kashmiri, Kamboh and Karimi main families in the constituency, play a key role in elections.

The political campaign started some two weeks ago with the acceptance of nomination papers and awarding of party tickets to the candidates in the area. In the constituency, Ch Imranullah was elected as MNA by getting 28,024 votes in the 2002 general elections while Usman Ibrahim stood second by obtaining 26,275 votes. Usman Ibrahim secured 51,705 votes, in 2008 elections from the area. He has remained MPA from the constituency. PP-91 and PP-92 fall under NA-95 Gujranwala city. Imran Khalid Butt (PML-N), Faisal Rauf (PPP) and Jawad Hassan Manj (PTI) are the candidates while close contest is likely between Imran Khalid and Faisal Rauf.

Imran defeated Faisal Rauf in the 2008 general election by getting 22,948 votes while Faisal obtained 19,247 votes. It is generally believed that votes of Kamboh, Karimi and Shamsi families would affect the election results.

For PP-92, the candidates include: Nawaz Chohan (PML-N), Lala Shakilur Rehman (PPP) and Sarfraz Mehr (PTI). It comprises city area of Mohallah Bakhteywala, Mehr Wazirwali area, surrounding Nowhshera Road, Mian Sansi Road and Khiali Shahpur. Lala Shakilur Rehman was elected as MPA by getting 16,562 votes in 2002 elections. Dr Ashraf Chuhan defeated Shakilur Rehman by 650 votes.

Ashraf Chauhan vacated the seat a few months ago because of holding dual nationality after the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in this regard. Thereafter, his brother was elected from the seat in the by-election, with a big margin against Asadullah Papa, then PPP city president and Sarfraz Mehr, who at that time, was an independent candidate. Now, Sarfraz Mehr is the PTI candidate and has obtained over 7,000 votes in a by - election. In PP-92, Rizwan Ahmad Cheema, a Jamaat-i-Islami candidate, is also in the race.

Free, fair elections pledged afresh: All-out arrangements to ensure fair, free and transparent holding of elections have been completed across the province, said Punjab Home Minister and Cabinet Committee Chief Tariq Parveiz.

He was addressing a press conference after presiding over a high level divisional meeting at commissioner office here on Saturday.

Home Secretary Shahid Khan, Punjab IG Police Aftab Sultan, Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmad Anjum, RPO Javed Islam were also present on the occasion. The provincial minister said that the Interim setup had been given clear mandate for conducting impartial elections in a peaceful and congenial atmosphere.

Tariq said that the maintenance of law and order was the top priority prior and during the elections. He said that all-out arrangements and strategies had already been completed while divisional and district authorities had also been directed in this regard. He said that the interim setup was completely impartial and fully determined to effectively implement the election code of conduct with zero tolerance for violation.

Tariq said that some minor complaints of publicity material were reported that had been addressed immediately, adding that the police was also taking impartial action against the incidents of firing and intimidation.

To a question, he said that sensitive constituencies and polling stations had been identified with different layers of potential threats, adding that elite force will be deployed on highly sensitive areas while paramilitary forces would also be remained alert to respond to emergency. Moreover he said that one motorcycle squad would be deployed for two sensitive polling stations while a police mobile would cover ten polling stations. He clarified, that some issues directly fall within the purview of returning officers who had magisterial powers to deal with any violation there and then. Tariq assured that administration was fully determined to provide impartial atmosphere to all political parties and their contesting candidates without any tilt. He informed the international observers along with local media would also monitor the election process. He asked the local media to remain vigilant and pinpoint any violation of code of conduct for immediate response to redress any discrepancy.Earlier, the Punjab Cabinet Committee attended a briefing in which overall law and order situation and election arrangements were discussed. The Divisional Commissioner and RPO briefed the committee about the election strategy and arrangements made for the conduct for fair, free and impartial election in the division.

The Divisional Commissioner informed that around 2,300 volunteers had been temporarily recruited by the Civil Defence Department who would assist the police on polling day. He said that video recording would also be arranged at sensitive polling stations besides installation of CCTV cameras according to the needs.

On the occasion, the Punjab Home Minister directed that security plan should be effectively implemented with repeated rehearsals to improve the arrangements.