ISLAMABAD - Asad Zaman Cheema has tried his luck three times since 2002 for a Punjab Assembly seat from district Toba Tek Singh but every time he was defeated by a member of the Warraich family by a thin margin of votes.
Cheema has contested three times with no success but another opportunity awaits him as the PP-118 (Toba Tek Sing-I) constituency may witness a bye-election.
The PP-118 seat has been won by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Khalid Javed Warraich who has also won the NA-111 seat. In the PP-118 constituency, the difference of votes between Cheema and Warraich was merely 548. It was 497 in 2002 and 4,271 in 2013 general elections.
Cheema could not get enough votes to get past the Warraich family member all the time he contested elections, though the difference of votes remained thin.
In the 2002 general elections, Bilal Asghar Warriach of Pakistan Muslim League-Junejo got 24,662 votes and Cheema, who was contesting on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz ticket, secured 24,165 votes, just 497 votes less than the winning candidate in the then PP-84 (Toba Tek Singh-I).
In 2008, Cheema did not participate in elections and another Cheema tried his luck in PP-84 (Toba Tek Singh-I). However, Bilal Asghar Warraich of Pakistan Muslim League-Q defeated Usman Ali Cheema of PML-N by a margin of 6,167 votes. Warraich obtained 35,011 votes against Usman’s 28,844 votes.
In 2013, Bilal Asghar Warraich of Pakistan National Muslim League defeated Asad Zaman Cheema in PP-84 (Toba Tek Singh-I) by obtaining 26,501 votes. Cheema, who had contested the election as an independent candidate, could get only 22,230 votes. The margin of defeat remained 4,271 votes.
In 2018, Khalid Javed Warraich of PML-N got 43,322 votes against PTI candidate Asad Zaman Cheema in PP-118 (Toba Tek Singh-I), and the latter could get 42,774 votes and faced the defeat by a margin of 548 votes. In the backdrop of a by-election, the fourth opportunity awaits Cheema, the three times unlucky loser.
On the other hand, Khalid Javed Warraich, who has won two seats, will have to retain one seat, either PP-118 or NA-111 and bye-elections had never been an easy test for an opposition party politician, as it is yet not clear who makes the Punjab government, either the PTI or the PML-N.