NOORPUR THAL - The political activities in National Assembly’s constituency NA-70 and Punjab Assembly’s PP-42 are gaining momentum as the PML-N has reportedly decided to award party tickets to MNA Malik Shakir Bashir Awan and MPA Malik Muhammad Waris Kallu for the forthcoming general elections.

In the 2008 general elections, the MNA defeated Malik Ehsanullah Tiwana, an independent candidate, with about 7,000 votes as Malik Shakir had got 66,361 votes. However, Waris as an independent candidate defeated Malik Aziz Hussain Jar of the PML-N in the 2008 General Elections. Both the parliamentarians-cum-candidates of the PML-N have started their election campaign and contacts, relations and friendships are being revived.

However, the other candidates in NA-70 include: Malik Ehsan Ullah Tiwana (PTI); Sardar Shujah Muhammad Khan (Independent); and Malik Gul Asghar Khan Baghoor (Independent) while the contestants in PP-42 are: former Punjab minister Malik Khuda Bakhsh Khan Tiwana (independent); Allama Abdur Razzaq (JUI-F); and Malik Gul Asghar Khan Baghoor (independent).

Khushab district consist of rural and urban areas with three tehsils including Khushab, Noorpur Thal and Quaidabad and a sub-tehsil Nowshera. According to the 1998 census, its population is 905,711. Khushab is one of the most important cities of the Punjab. The district is full of natural beauty containing Jhelum River, fields, mountains and Thal desert. Most of the voters in Thal are based on clans and dynasties and in Khushab, Jauharabad city areas the PML-N is comparatively more popular than the other parties.

In NA-70 politics, dynasties play a key role in elections. The main contenders will be from the PML-N and allied parties. Shakir, who was elected as MNA in the 2008 elections, belongs to Awan dynasty that has political influence in the area. He is supported by Awan, Jara, Gujar, Jasra, Pahor, Syed, Qureshi, Mughal, Bingi, Burhan and Pathan families. Former district Nazim Khushab Malik Ehsanullah Tiwana from the PTI is younger brother of former Punjab minister Malik Khuda Bakhsh Khan Tiwana.

 Malik Ehsan served as the district nazim in 2001. He is supported by Saggu, Baghoor, Mughal, Pathan, Rajput, Bhatti and Khara families.

The third candidate from the constituency is Sardar Shujah Muhammad Khan who belomgs to Baloch family. He was elected as MNA from NA-70 in 1993 and 1997. He is supported by Baloch, Syed, Khoawar, Sargani, Bhatti, Chohan and Burhan families.

Malik Gul Asghar Khan, another independent candidate, belongs to Baghoor family. He has launched his own group namely Thal Development Forum that is working on one-point agenda of the restoration of Thal Development Authority. PP-42 consists of rural and urban areas of Roda, Girot and Noorpur Thal. The local politics is completely based on personalities and dynasties. People of the area do not cast votes on the basis of election campaign or party affiliation but because of their affiliation with religious personalities is the main forces behind their political support.

Malik Khuda Bakhsh Khan Tiwana, who has been elected as MPA on the seat for a many times, has also decided to contest election from PP-42. He is an influential political figure in district Khushab with his own group namely Awami Group. He has served as the District Council chairman as well and is supported by Awan, Joya, Bhaseen, Pathan, Bhatti, Saggu, Khara, Rahdari, Rajput, Baloch, Khoawar and Bhidwal families.

Social and political figure Malik Gul Asghar Baghoor, another independent candidate, is a new comer in the politics. Allama Abdur Razzaq, Ameer JUI-F district Khushab, is popular among the religious circles. Thus, a tough competition is expected among the candidates in the general elections.