LAHORE - In the run-up to the July 25 polls, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has lost support of important pirdoms in the province, significantly curtailing its right wing vote in a number of constituencies.

The PML-N emerged victorious in the last general elections in Punjab with influential pirdoms playing a key role in shaping up the final results in its favour.

Custodians of various shrines were already annoyed with the PML-N leadership due to hanging of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, but later developments culminating at the controversial legislation on the finality of prophethood added fuel to the fire.

Other factors, including ban on the use of loudspeakers at mosques and crackdown on seminaries under National Action Plan, also provided to them enough ground to part ways with the PML-N enjoying their blessings for over a quarter century.

Multiplying the difficulties of already under-stressed PML-N due to disqualification of Nawaz Sharif and flight of electables, pirdoms have gone to the camp of its arch-rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Differences with Pir of Sial Sharif made headlines during the last nine months of PML-N regime with more than half a dozen legislators announced their resignations from the national and provincial assemblies. Massive public rallies in major cities, however, could not manage resignation of the then provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah.

Pir of Sial Sharif has huge following in Sargodha, Jhang, Faisalabad, Chiniot and Bhakkar districts where PML-N won most of the seats in the last general elections. Notable electables in these districts have parted ways with the PML-N and joined PTI fold. Pir of Sial Sharif has announced to support Ghulam Bibi Bharwana in Jhang and PTI candidates in other districts. The prevailing scenario has put PML-N in troubled water in its stronghold.

Pir of Golra Sharif, having huge following across the country, in general, and in Punjab, in particular, has also announced support for PTI in the upcoming general elections. Historically, PML-N enjoyed support of this important shrine.

Hazrat Baba Farid Gunj Shakar shrine in Pakpattan is also supporting PTI this time around. Sajjada Nasheen Masood Ahmed Mehmood who was president of PML-N’s Ulema and Mushaikh Wing has resigned from the slot and extended support to PTI.

Custodians of Hazrat Sultan Bahu shrine in Jhang have also parted way with PML-N. The sajjada nasheen contested the previous general election from the PML-N platform. This time Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan and Sahibzada Ameer Sultan are contesting elections from two NA seats on the PTI tickets.

The pir of Alipur Syedan, district Narowal, is not supporting PML-N. Pir Shujaat Ali is contesting elections on a provincial assembly seat from Narowal and on an NA seat from Sialkot against the son of former federal law minister Zahid Hamid from the Tehreek-e-Labbaik platform. This will indirectly benefit PTI as Pir Shujaat has the capacity to significantly damage PML-N.

Custodians of Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid shrine in Kot Mithan have also parted way with PML-N, giving support to PTI.

Although Jalil Sharaqpuri is contesting election on a provincial seat from the PML-N platform after refusal of ticket from PTI, the custodians of the shrine have announced support for Imran-Khan led party.

Syed Samsam Bokhari, Pir of Karmanwala, Okara, is contesting election for an NA seat on the PTI ticket.

Pir Saeed-ul-Hassan of Marara Sharif was elected an MPA on the PML-N ticket in the last election. He too has quit the party and joined PTI for better fortunes. After withdrawal of ticket by PTI, he has preferred to stay away from PML-N and announced contesting polls as an independent candidate.

Siajjada nasheen of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakariya Multani, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, is a stalwart of PTI having huge following even in Sindh. Like the previous elections, support of this important shrine will be a key to good results for PTI.

Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, hailing from the custodians of Musa Pak shrine, is contesting for an NA seat on PPP ticket.

The custodian of Hazrat Shah Jewna, Jhang, Syed Faisal Saleh Hayyat, is contesting for an NA seat on the PPP ticket.