Multan turns into battleground of the pirs

MULTAN: Two most influential pirs of South Punjab are competing against each other in NA-157 of Multan. One is Zain Qureshi, son of Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi who the custodian of the throne of Sufi saint Shan Ruknuddin Alam.

The second is Syed Ali Moosa Gilani, son of former prime minister Makhdoom Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, who has close family links with the shrine of Sufi saint Moosa Paak Shaheed.

The pirs of Multan, who are supporting PPP, and their children, have extended their support for Ali Moosa Gillani. However, those who are the disciples of Qureshi have thrown their weight behind Zain Qureshi.

Earlier, this constituency was NA-148 and comprised of a 5% urban and 95% rural area. However, after delimitation, it is now NA-157 and has 30% urban area and 70% rural area.

PTI and PML-N to face off in Multan

The constituency lies on the outskirts of Multan on the boundary of Khanewal and Lodhran. The literacy rate in this area is very low and the total number of registered voters is 390,725, including 176,105 women and 214,620 men.

This is the most ignored and underdeveloped constituency of Multan where hardly any development work has taken place over the last 50 years. There are few health facilities in this constituency. Just two private hospitals, namely Ibn-e-Sina Hospital and Bakhtawar Ameen Hospital, were established to provide medical education and health facilities to the people.

These two private hospitals were started by private owners after the invitation of former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s special efforts ensured a PTI ticket for his son from NA-157. Zain is standing for elections for the first time in his political career.

Malik Mazhar Abbas, who left PML-N and joined PTI, is now contesting polls from PP-218 against his cousin Abbas Raan of PPP. The latter is the tribal chief of Raan and settled in the Raawan area.

Dr Akhtar Malik, who became an MPA during the 2008 elections on a PPP ticket, has also joined PTI and is contesting the Punjab Assembly seat from PP-219 against Roy Mansab of PPP.

However, PML-N has fielded Zafar Ahmad Raan from PP-218 and Rana Iqbal Siraj from PP-219. This has divided the vote of the Raan clan among three main political parties. The estimated number of votes of the ‘biradari’ is between 20,000 and 25,000.

PML-N has fielded Abdul Ghaffar Dogar. In the 2013 general elections, PML-Ns Malik Abdul Ghaffar Dogar won from this constituency while Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Syed Ali Moosa Gillani stood second and third, respectively. Various influential clans including Rana, Baloch, Kharral, Maan, Siyal and Arayin have extended their support to Abdul Ghaffar Dogar.

Zain Qureshi told The Express Tribune that people have tried PML-N and PPP from this constituency and both parties failed to deliver.

All eyes on PTI’s ‘gamble’ in NA-154

“This is our ancestral urban seat and my father Shah Mahmood Qureshi has also won from this constituency. The third generation of voters is with us. We will sweep the upcoming polls,” he remarked.

Voters of this area seemed disappointed with the previous candidates. They said roads were necessary to promote business and trade. Most complained that PML-N and PPP candidates, who won with their votes and promised to establish NADRA and passport offices in the area, failed to keep their word.

Many of the voters said that they wanted to try PTI on this occasion.

Pakistan Peoples Party has fielded only one female candidate Kalsoom Naaz Baloch from South Punjab for the seat of the provincial assembly. Baloch is contesting polls in PP-217 against PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PML-N’s Tasneem Kausar and independent candidate Salman Naeem.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2018.

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