No political party has formally nominated a candidate for the district council’s chairmanship
The elections for the district council in Faisalabad are a contest between influential families in the area, veteran journalists and commentators say.
They say candidates patronised by these families are contesting elections on tickets of both major parties – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf.
The district council includes 189 (rural) union councils. The PML-N has fielded panels for the offices of chairman and vice-chairman in 92 UCs, the PTI in 89 UCs and the PPP in 18 UCs.
There are 3,841,481 voters registered in the district (56.3 percent male and 43.77 female).
The Nazir Ahmed (late) and the Afzal Sahi families are campaigning from the PML-N platform and Rana Zahid Touseef family from the PTI.
Nazir Ahmed’s son Zahid Nazir, a former district nazim, has been elected unopposed to the district council from UC-30. He is a contender for the district chairman’s office.
Nazir’s political career features three terms as district council chairmanship. The family owns a transport business and has support among the Arian clan. Of the seven National Assembly seats in Faisalabad district (rural), two were won by his Asim Nazir (PML-N) and Shahid Nazir (PPP) in 2013 elections.
Afzal Sahi, a former Punjab Assembly speaker, is backing his son Junaid Afzal Sahi who is contesting on a PML-N ticket from UC-10.
Afzal Sahi, an agriculturalist, had started his political career by winning the district council election in 1979. He has been a provincial minister for three terms. His elder brother, Ghulam Rasool Sahi, is an MNA on a PML-N ticket from Chack Jhumrah.
Rana Zahid Touseef, an industrialist, was a member of the district council from 1979 to 1987. From 1988 to 1997, he had won consecutive elections to National Assembly from the district. He was stopped from contesting National Assembly elections in 2002 and 2008 for lacking a university degree. Touseef is contesting on a PTI ticket from UC-21 against a joint panel of the PML-N and the PPP (PML-N’s Muhammad Tariq Mahmood is the candidate for chairman and PPP’s Mahar Mehboob Alam for vice chairman).
Touseef says if he wins on October 31, he will run for district chairman’s office from the PTI’s platform. He says candidates in at least 100 UCs, including independents, have already announced support for him.
No political party has formally nominated a candidate for the district council’s chairmanship. Party leaders say it’s too early to bet on someone. PTI district organiser Faiz Ahmed Kamoka says whoever secures support from the highest number of council members will be considered as the party’s nominee. The PML-N has let its MNAs allot tickets for the local government elections in their areas. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will decide the candidate for the mayor’s office.
Pre-poll rigging complaints
Several PTI candidates and independents have approached the Election Commission of Pakistan with complaints about pre-poll rigging by their PML-N rivals. They have said that PML-N MNAs have started development works in their areas ahead of the election to win over votes. District Returning Officer Abdul Razzaq says he has received over three dozen complaints from the rural UCs. He says he will proceed in the matter on receiving guidance from the provincial office. A request has been sent for the purpose, he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2015.