PTI, PML-Q set to give tough time to ruling party in by-polls


Malik Shehryar Awan & Retired Col Sultan Surkhru
Malik Shehryar Awan & Retired Col Sultan Surkhru

CHAKWAL: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q) have joined hands against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) in the by-polls for PP-23 Chakwal IV.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek also announced its support for the PTI candidate while Jamaat-i-Islami is also likely to back the party.

The seat fell vacant due to the death of PML-N MPA Malik Zahoor Anwar Awan on February 21. The election is scheduled to be held on April 18.

The seat fell vacant after the death of PML-N MPA Malik Zahoor Anwar Awan on February 21

The constituency falls in NA 61 and is based on the ruling area of tehsil Talagang and tehsil Lawa.

With the support of the PML-Q, the PTI has fielded retired Col Sultan Surkhru against Malik Shehryar Awan of the PML-N.

Malik Awan is the nephew of the late Malik Anwar and also is a grandson of Malik Saleem Iqbal, who is currently serving as the special assistant to the chief minister of Punjab.

Mr Surkhru is going to face Malik Awan who has entered the electoral battle for the first time.

However, since his uncle Malik Zahoor Anwar fell ill after the 2013 general elections, he represented his uncle in political matters.

Mr Surkhru started his political career in 1998 when he was elected to the district council as an independent candidate.

In the 2002 general elections, Mr Surkhru stunned his opponents by getting 56,000 votes as an independent candidate against PML-Q’s Malik Zahoor Anwar Awan who bagged 49,000 votes. After winning the seat, he joined the PML-Q.

However, in the 2008 elections, Mr Surkhru came up on a PML-N ticket and was defeated by Malik Zahoor of the PML-Q. Mr Surkhru got 41,962 votes against Zahoor Anwar’s 45,024. After winning the election, Mr Zahoor joined the PML-N. Resultantly, Mr Surkhru left the party and joined the PTI.

In the 2013 elections, PML-N’s Zahoor Anwar again won the seat by securing 54,949 votes against 46,231 of PML-Q’s Sardar Amjad Ilyas. Mr Surkhru could get only 23,578 votes.

The constituency consists of 20 union councils and Lawa municipality. The PML-Q is ruling in four union councils and also in Lawa municipality while PML-N has won 16 union councils. Since 1985, the seat remained a stronghold of PML-N as its local leader Malik Saleem Iqbal won the constituency for five times.

During his stint as the chief minister, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi carried out a number of development works in Talagang area due to Hafiz Ammar Yasir, a local leader of PML-Q, who has close relations with the Chaudrys of Gujrat.

The PML-Q swept the municipalities of Talagang and Lawa in the last local government elections and also won five union councils in the area.

“During his election campaign in 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while addressing a public meeting in Talagang made a number of promises such as upgrading Talagang to the district level, building a university, a medical college and a motorway from Talagang to Dera Ismail Khan but none of the promises has been fulfilled yet.

“Due to the unfulfilled promises there is resentment among the people of Talagang against the PML-N,” said Chaudhry Ghulam Rabani, a journalist in Talagang. “The PML-N has to face tough time from PTI and PML-Q,” he added.

Another drawback of PML-N is that the party is divided into two groups in the area. One group is being led by Malik Saleem Iqbal and the other by MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman.

Though both the leaders got united a few days ago and Mr Tamman himself handed over the party ticket to Malik Shehryar Awan, political observers are of the view that differences between the two factions at the village level may cost the party heavily.

The upcoming verdict of Panama Leaks would also affect the election of PP23.

PTI northern Punjab chapter president Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz told Dawn that the position of the party in the area had become strong in the wake of the alliance with PML-Q.

“We have launched our campaign and Imran Khan is also likely to address a large public meeting in the area in coming days,” he said.

Mr Surkhru said though the PML-N had an advantage of being in the government, the PTI with the active support of the PML-Q would give a tough time to the ruling party.

Malik Saleem Iqbal and MNA Mumtaz Tamman maintained that the PML-N would retain the seat. “We have launched a campaign after ending our differences. We would try our best to win the seat,” Mr Tamman said.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017

Courtesy : DAWN