­RAWALPINDI - Electricity loadshedding, shortage of water, sewerage system, space for graveyard, massive traffic jams, unplanned development, poor infrastructure and bad law and order situation are the main issues highlighted during the election campaign in NA-62 areas.

Although the shortage of facilities in government-run hospitals also echoes in the election campaign, the candidates have started making promises to resolve the civic issues in next five years after coming to power.

Although scores of other candidates are flexing their muscles to win NA-62 political battle by revealing their manifestoes in public gatherings, Awami Muslim League President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has promised to protect Leh Nullah from flooding and resolve the water shortage issue once he is elected by the people of NA-62.

Former ruling party candidate Barrister Danial Ahmed Chaudhry (son of Senator Chaudhry Tanvir Ali Khan), MMA’s Tariq Munir Butt and PPP’s Sumaira Gull, also following the path of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, are assuring the voters of solving their problems. However, the reunion of two heavyweights of N-League, Hanif Abbasi and Chaudhry Tanvir Ali Khan, has increased difficulties for six-time winner, Sheikh Rashid. On the other hand, after getting clean chit from the Supreme Court of Pakistan in a petition filed by Malik Shakil Ahmed Awan, Sheikh Rashid is looking much confident.

Scores of voters, during a survey conducted by The Nation, pledged not to vote for PML-N candidates, saying they had not paid heed to the basic problems faced by the area people. They also came down hard on ex-premier Nawaz Sharif for not releasing development funds to Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the winner of general elections 2013, and politically victimising him.

There are 335,023 registered voters in NA-62. The constituency includes Dhok Ratta, Workshap Mohallah, Bagh Sardaran, Purana Qilla, Bhabra Bazaar, City Saddar Road, Kashmiri Bazaar, Novelty Cinema, Ratta Amral, Dhok Dalal, Hazara Colony, Waris Khan, Mohanpura, Usmanpura, Arjunnagar, Raja Bazaar, New Mohallah, College Road, China Market, Imambargah Col Maqbool Hussain, Trye Market, Bohar Bazaar, Boring Road, Chitti Hattian, Dhok Mangtal, Dhok Hassu, Fauji Colony, Dhok Darzian, Galli Loharan, Badar Colony, Pirwadhai, Khayaban-e-Sir Syed, New Katarian, New Parian, Pagwari, Asghar Mall Scheme, Eidgah and suburbs.

Talking to The Nation, Alvi Ahmed, a voter in NA-62, said PML-N has not only failed to resolve public issues but also created hurdles for Sheikh Rashid to serve the masses. “The most interesting job done by PML-N leaders is to influence police stations and courts to victimise their political opponents whereas Sheikh Rashid is never seen in any police station to favour or victimise anyone,” he said. He further said PML-N constructed a few small bridges on nullahs and carpeted streets, but Sheikh Rashid concentrated on building schools, colleges and first-ever Fatima Jinnah Women University.

Another voter Nadim, 42, a taxi driver by profession, said he voted for PTI candidate in 2013, but now he has changed his mind. “I will not vote for any candidate as none of them did development work in my area. Broken roads and streets, rusty water supply pipes, blocked sewerage system and poor law and order situation are the hallmarks of NA-62,” he said. He also criticised role of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, saying he delivers fiery speeches on TV shows instead of visiting his voters to know their problems. “We do not have clean driking water. We buy tankers against Rs 2,000 in summer and Rs 1,000 in winter. We are not mad to vote for them again,” Nadim lamented.

Sheikh Ghulam Hussain, a tailor by profession, said he hates politicians, including Sheikh Rashid, Malik Shakil Awan and others as none of them raised their voice on the assembly floor for providing jobs to voters of his area. He said PML-N spent billions of rupees on Metro bus project to provide travelling facilities to only a few people, but did not allocate funds for building Nullah Leh Expressway. “I request the government to construct Nullah Leh Expressway and provide job opportunities to the people of Rawalpindi,” he said.

Many voters of NA-62 said they would vote for those solving their basic problems.

NA-62 is totally an urban constituency with no dominating clan or baradari which can have a decisive impact on the election results.

The people of this constituency can be divided into three broad categories – those who have been living here for generations; secondly those who settled here after partition of the subcontinent and thirdly those who came here in connection with their jobs in the capital, GHQ and other federal government departments and settled here permanently. There is also a sizeable number of Kashmiris living in this constituency, but no single clan or Baradari is in a position to swing the election in favour of any single party or candidate.

Political analysts say development work in the constituency would play a decisive role in the upcoming elections and PML-N could benefit from some mega projects like Metro Bus Service, Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology and another hospital for kidney patients, which is near completion.

But some analysts see other factors like disqualification of Nawaz Sharif in Panama Papers to overshadow rest of the things.

Senior PML-N leader from Rawalpindi, Hafiz Farooq Khattak, was confident that they would win the seat and the people of the area would prove the city belonged to Nawaz League.

On the other hand, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders were having altogether different view. They said the political developments and disqualification of Nawaz Sharif would swing the things in their favour, adding National Accountability Court would convict Nawaz Sharif in the corruption references, which would completely ruin PML-N politics not only in Rawalpindi but also in the entire country. They were quite optimistic about the victory of PTI-backed AML Chief Sheikh Rashid.

In the 2013 elections, Sheikh Rashid won the seat from this constituency while both the PA candidates of PTI under him also secured their seats and most probably the same pattern would be repeated this time.

Political analysts are according great significance to the newly revived Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal. Although the alliance would not be in a position to win any seat from Rawalpindi, it would damage other parties by bagging about 15,000 votes.

MMA has not so far decided about its candidates from Rawalpindi, but most likely someone from Jamaat-e-Islami would manage to get ticket from this constituency.

Traditionally, NA-62 remained the stronghold of PML-N which by and large won from the area since non-party based elections in 1985.

Before the 2002 delimitations, both NA-55 and adjacent NA-56 were part of NA-38 and Sheikh Rashid won all the five elections since 1985 from this constituency on PML-N ticket. He, however, lost to PML-N candidates from these constituencies in 2008. He once again lost to Malik Shakil Awan in by-polls.

The constituency remained in the hands of Pakistan People’s Party in 1970 when its candidate Khursheed Hassan Mir became an MNA from this area with a thumping majority. Again in 1977, another PPP stalwart Ali Asghar Shah won the election from this area.

But in 1985, Ali Asghar Shah’s nomination papers were rejected and Sheikh Rashid who was his covering candidate had an opportunity to contest the election. And he stunned the people by defeating Sheikh Ghulam Hussain, a linchpin of the then dictator Ziaul Haq.

His political decline started in 2008 general elections when he lost both the seats to Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and Hanif Abbasi.

“The courts are biased against ruling PML-N as they disqualified N League leaders for life, but cleared Sheikh Rashid,” said Malik Shakil Awan, while talking to The Nation when he was contacted for his comments over political situation in NA-62.

He said he had furnished solid proof to the ECP that Sheikh Rashid had concealed his assets while filing nomination papers with ECP for contesting general elections 2013. “I exposed him before the Supreme Court by presenting the proofs which could not be negated at any stage. Even though the decision is pending,” ex-MNA Malik Shakil Awan said. He was confident that the court would disqualify Sheikh Rashid Ahmed for hiding his assets.

We don’t have

clean drinking water.

We buy tankers for

Rs2,000 in summer

and Rs1,000 in winter