ISLAMABAD: Two prominent politicians contesting against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in Lahore and Bannu are in the soup for different reasons, apparently creating favourable conditions for him in the fierce July 25 scramble.
The Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab has recommended to the Deputy Commissioner of Lahore to place under house arrest for thirty days noted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and half a dozen other contesting candidates from Lahore.
Sadd Rafique has challenged Imran Khan from NA-131 Lahore. If he was detained as desired by the police, his incarceration may negatively impact his election campaign in the remaining crucial days up to July 25 and on the polling day when his personal presence is a must to make direly needed arrangements.
Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) nominee Akran Durrani, who is facing the PTI chairman from NA-35 Bannu, survived an assassination attempt in which four persons were killed in a terrorist attack when he was returning from an election rally. He is naturally in a shock because of this attack and has to be more careful and maybe restrained in his poll campaign in the run up to the polling twelve days later. However, he has vowed to continue his canvassing at a fast pace. “The time and day of death is fixed, and I can’t abandon the campaigning.”
These alarming events have made the playing field uneven for the PML-N and MMA representatives, who, however, are determined to fight. There is business as usual in three other constituencies that Imran Khan is aspiring to get in Karachi, Islamabad and Mianwali. His opponents are not confronted with a difficult situation as his rivals in Lahore and Bannu are.
In the race for NA-243 Karachi, the PTI chief has been challenged by formidable candidates. Ali Raza Abidi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Shehla Raza of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are vying for this seat. Besides, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) nominee Syed Nawazul Huda is also in the run.
In NA-53 Islamabad, there is a straight fight between Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi and Imran Khan. The ex-premier was finally relieved of the lingering challenge to his candidature in NA-57 Murree when the Supreme Court dismissed it on Friday. In NA-95 Mianwali, the PTI chairman is facing PML-N representative Obaidullah Shadikhel, who won this seat, vacated by Imran Khan after the 2013 polls, in a by-election later. Nawab Malik Amir Muhammad Khan belongs to the Jeep group of candidates.
Imran Khan has always been successful from his native town of Mianwali. Even now, his position is also stated to be comfortable in this constituency. However, nobody is in a position to say with confidence that he is safe in the remaining four constituencies as he is in NA-95. Interesting fights will take place for these seats that go to either contestant.