Parties prefer political pedigree to loyalty, activism

Source: Published in Politics on Thursday, October 22, 2015

FAISALABAD: Both the major political parties -- PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf -- have preferred the candidates related to established political families for the upcoming local government elections, ignoring their staunch activists they have been using for showing their street power.

Both parties have awarded tickets to the kith and kin of families that have already enjoyed stints in power corridors.

Scions of the political families in the run for union council chairmen slots in Faisalabad include former district (DN) nazim Zahid Nazir, brother of PML-N MNA Asim Nazir, ex-DN Rana Zahid Touseef, brother of former state minister Rana Asif Touseef, former city nazim Mushtaq Ali Cheema, brother of former federal textile minister Mushtaq Ali Cheema, Qasim Farooq, son of MNA Mian Farooq, Aamer Sher Ali, brother of state minister for water and power Abid Sher Ali, Junaid Afzal Sahi, son of former Punjab Assembly Speaker Afzal Sahi, Malik Riaz and Malik Razzaq, brothers of MPA Nawaz Malik, Taimoor Akhtar, nephew of PML-Q Punjab secretary and former minister Chaudhary Zahiruddin and Shehzad Moazzam, younger brother of PTI office-bearer and former MPA Asad Moazzam.

Zahid Nazir, has been elected unopposed as UC nazim.

Nazir had won the district nazim slot on the ticket of PML-Q. However, prior to the last general elections the brothers had joined the PML-N.

Zahid Touseef is in the run for UC 21 nazim slot on the PTI ticket. Touseef had been elected district nazim. In 2005, Rana Zahid Touseef had been fielded by the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and he defeated PML-Q candidate Ghulam Rasool Sahi.

Industrialists of Faisalabad had actively backed Touseef against Sahi fearing that the latter’s victory would strengthen the notorious Bajwa gang which was involved in extortion targeting different businessmen of the area.

Touseef had secured 1,865 votes and Sahi obtained 1,635.

Both Nazir and Touseef are also aspirants for the district council chairman slot.

Mumtaz Ali Cheema has been fielded by the PTI for the city’s UC-77 chairman slot. Cheema had served as city nazim on the PML-Q ticket during Musharraf regime when his brother Musthaq Cheema was textile minister.

Similarly, Sajjad Cheema, son of Mumtaz Cheema, was also Iqbal Town nazim.

The Cheema family started politics from the PPP platform but later joined the PML-Q and now they are affiliated with the PTI.

Mumtaz Cheema will try his luck for Faisalabad mayor slot.

Junaid Afzal is son of Afzal Sahi and nephew of Ghulam Rasool Sahi.

Sahi brothers have also remained affiliated with the PML-Q. However, they joined the PML-N prior to the last general elections.

Although they are considered politically strong in NA-75 union councils, PTI candidates in these constituencies are expected to give Sahis a tough time.

Former Faisalabad mayor Sher Ali, father of Abid Sher Ali, who has launched his Mayor group, claiming he is supporting the staunch workers of the PMLN who have been denied tickets by the party parliamentarians.

Majority of the Mayor Group candidates, including Aamer Sher Ali, are contesting with ‘bucket’ as their election symbol.

The PML-N leadership had declared PP-70 constituency ‘open’ and did not issue tickets to any candidate in the UCs under the constiutuency.

Owing to differences with Mayor

Group, MPA Malik Nawaz’s brothers are facing a tough competition in the two UCs of Ghulam Mohammadabad.

Three brothers of Malik Nawaz are facing terrorism charges for allegedly firing on a PTI rally. Police are investigating with no arrest so far.

The observers of local politics are of the view that fielding the candidates related to political families would further strengthen their grip on power in the district where they would be grab top slots.

They said now it was up to voters whether they vote for the same old lot or try newcomers who had passion to work for their welfare.

Farooq Ahmed Chattha, who was fielded by the Jamaat-i-Islami in the last general elections in NA-75, said majority of the PML-N parliamentarians and PTI office-bearers had fielded their favourites in the local polls rather than the actual political workers.

He said a number of candidates who enjoyed power during the PPP and PML-Q governments were now associated with the PMLN or the PTI.

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