Finally, Maryam Nawaz submitted party ticket in NA-127 to contest the elections from this constituency. It was generally expected that she will contest the election from NA-125. This constituency is one of the home constituency and stronghold of PML-N for nearly three decades. It was considered as a safe constituency for Sharif family.
Maryam Nawaz had initially applied from both NA-125 (previously known as NA-120) and NA-127 (previously NA-123) to contest the elections. The initial understanding in the party was that she would contest the elections from NA-125 where she had run successful election campaigns for her father – Nawaz Sharif – in 2013 and mother in 2017.
Given her familiarity with the constituency, the party awarded her the party ticket for NA-125. Surprisingly, a day before the party announced the tickets from Punjab in which she was a candidate from NA-125, her own team announced that she was running elections from NA-127 which after the announcement of tickets created a bit of a confusion. Four days into the announcement of the tickets, the party allotted her the ticket from NA-127 instead of NA-125, ending the confusion.
The ticket of NA-127 was initially allotted to the party’s Lahore chapter president Malik Pervaiz, who had won twice from the constituency and his latest victory in 2013 was with a sizable margin. Given the huge lead that the party bagged in 2013, the constituency was considered to be an easy win.
There seems to be two main reasons behind this decision. One, PML-N has only 14 points lead over its rival PTI in NA-125. Where as in NA127, the margin is more than 30 points and PML-N has clear lead in this constituency. To win the election with reasonable margin from NA-125, the presence and campaign of Maryam Nawaz is necessary in the constituency. It could have become much more problematic to win NA-125 with big margin in the absence of Maryam. Dr.Yasmin Rashid is working very hard in the constituency and running door to door campaign. She is a hard competitor compare to Jamshed Cheema in NA-127.
She is still in London along with her father to look after the ailing mother. It is not yet clear that whether she will be able to come back before the elections to run her campaign or not. So it was a big risk for PML-N in this situation. It will be easy for PML-N to win NA- 127 even in the absence of Maryam Nawaz.
Two, the PML-N is facing big fissures in this constituency. The differences between both the MPAs from this constituency and local body representatives deepened in last weeks as some chairman of local union councils publically protested against both PA candidates. The infighting is causing big problems for the PML-N campaign.
There is lot of media hype about NA-125 constituency. The PML-N wants to put up a low key candidate against Dr. Yasmeen Rashid to turn away the media attention from this constituency. Now PML-N candidate either Bilal Yasin or Waheed Alam khan will contest the election from NA-125. There will be a close contest in this constituency even though PML-N still leading and expects to win.
Khalid Bhatti ACE NEWS Election Cell