LAHORE - The NA-120 (Lahore) was a prestigious seat both for the PML-N and its arch rival PTI. The PML-N could not afford to lose it as it belonged to Mian Nawaz Sharif, the leader who founded the party and then set a new record in the country’s parliamentary history by getting elected thrice as prime minister.

For the PTI, election on this seat was a great challenge as the victory of its candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid against the spouse of a former prime minister could exalt the stature of the party in a city which is a stronghold of the PML-N.

Kalsoom Nawaz has bagged more than 59,000 votes against over 46,000 polled for Dr Yasmin Rashid. Other candidates have proved to be non-entities, who stand no political future.

In the given situation the PML-N’s victory is an achievement although the margin has come down compared to the 2013 election because of the low turnout.

The election results show the rout of the PPP in the political capital of the country. Its candidate has got about the half the votes bagged by Sheikh Yaqub of MML. The poor performance of the PPP candidate means that the PPP leadership’s dream of wresting the control of Punjab from the PML-N would not materialise in the foreseeable future. A PPP leader’s argument that the PML-N and Milli Muslim League had spent huge resources to get votes doesn’t hold water.

This was the first major election after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister by the Supreme Court, a judgment as a result of which he also lost the headship of the party. Its outcome reflects the public sentiment that they support the PML-N leadership despite a damning verdict by the apex court.

The support that Kalsoom Nawaz has got despite an adverse situation also shows a positive change in people’s attitude. In the past whenever a party was in trouble, people changed their loyalties and set sights on the new rising sun. It augurs well for the PML-N that voters have supported Begum Kalsoom at a time when the PML-N would have to face more difficulties in times ahead when proceedings are started against the Sharif family members on the basis of various references and the Hudaibiya case.

The emergence of Sheikh Yaqoob with the backing of Milli Muslim League and Jamaatud Dawa was a new phenomenon in the constituency.

Many believed that some “influential quarters” were backing the MML candidate and that he could spring a surprise in the election. However, these speculations have proved baseless. Had the influential hands been supporting him, his performance would not have been what has emerged.

Still the fact that Sheikh Yaqoob got more votes than Jamaat-i-Islami’s candidate speaks volumes about the performance of the latter. The situation should be alarming for the Jamaat-i-Islami, a party that has been in the field since the very inception of the country. The JI headquarters is also in the provincial metropolis, the city where the contest took place. The tally of the JI candidate, who is also a senior lawyer, shows that people don’t support the Jamaat’s politics despite its services in social sectors.

It is high time for the Jamaat to have a fresh look at its strategy and activities and see whether politics for it was what is proverbially called forbidden tree.

The defeat of the PTI and other opposition parties in the election shows that there is an urgent need for unity in their ranks to be able to face the challenge posed by the PML-N. Otherwise the future of all these parties is bleak.

Maryam Nawaz is the rightful claimant to the victory of her mother. This was the first time she campaigned for the party single-handedly – and got the desired results.

The victory has established that the leadership can trust Maryam for any important role in the future. But Maryam will be in a position to shoulder any responsibility in future only after she is cleared in references ordered by the apex court.

 

 

Kalsoom’s win establishes Maryam’s leadership