Here comes the battleground where actual battle for prmier post of Pakistan has to be fought in 2018. Punjab has 36 districts with decisive 148 seats in National assembly;
Lets first go though current PTI Position in Upper Punjab, and discuss districts wise existing position of PTI and then we will discuss those constituencies and districts where PTI need to work and do some adjustments, get up local allies, pull some electable and they will through on winning path.
Upper Punjab has 65 national assembly seats (excluding Toba Tek Singh), and it is strong hold of PML-N which pocketed 56 NA seats for this area In 2013 PTI won only 3 seats for themselves and 1 for its ally. PPP couldn’t won a single seat from here while PML-Q got 1 seat for themselves and one for their allies.
In perspective of 2018 Elections, this GT road belt is the most difficult area to route roots of PML-N in Punjab but its most important also from where PTI needs at-least 25 seats to achieve its target. Upper Punjab has urban centers like Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot and Faisalabad where PTI can spread its message and damage PML-N vote bank. And most importantly get into details and put up a joint opposition against PML-N candidate, and give them a one to one fight. Seat Adjustment with PML-Q, pocketing independent influential candidates, and get some PPP old stalwarts will be helpful to achieve the goal.
PTI won 5 seats (including ally) from whole GT Road belt in 2013, Three from Rawalpindi and two Mianwali, out 5 PTI lost one in By-Elections their strength remained to 4 NA seats. PTI remained runner up on 26 seats. Out of these 26 seats 7 were those which PTI lost with relatively close margin (less than 12K votes).
Out of these 7 seat one is in Rwalpindi District NA-54, two in Attock district NA-57 & NA-58, one in Jehlum NA-63, one in Gujranwala NA-101, one in Hafizabad NA-103 and one in Faisalabad NA-83.
One important fact which is very hopeful for PTI, most of these constituencies where PTI had put fight were of by-elections where PTI as able to put up one to one fight with PML-N candidate. So PTI has to ensure same strategy for positive results.
Now we will discuss district wise situation of Upper Punjab
Rawalpindi has three urban constituencies NA-55 and NA-56 which includes Rawalpindi city, and NA-53 taxila, PTI already has these seats, while four semi rural constituencies, NA-50, NA-51, NA52, & NA54 are with PML-N
NA-50: Shahid Khaqan Abbassi and PML-N has good vote bank here, recently PTI moved smart here and adopted runner up candidate of 2013 from PPP Ghulm Muratza Satti which can give PTI an edge from NA-50 and PTI can put up one to one competition to Shahid Khaqan Abbassi.
NA-51: PTI should look deep here in PML-N’s hierarchy, should work on choudry Riaz, ex-PML-N candidate, inclusion of him will be helpful for PTI.
NA-52: Toughest nut for PTI to bite, but PTI can put up a good fight due to the fact that one PP seat under this constituency is purely urban and has PTI’s vote bank. Alliance with PML-Q or inclusion of PML-Q’s leaders with PTI like, ,Malik Suhail Ashraf will be beneficial for PP-5
NA-54: PTI can win here easily with little effort; it should work on PPP’s Zammurd Khan to get into their cadre.
District Attock has three constituencies, one urban and two rural. In All three constituencies PTI has good candidates but major issue is Major® Tahir Sadiq group who is close relative Choudhries of Gujrat and PML-Q but they have personal vote bank in Attock. The three way fight always helps PML-N. PTI need to do seat adjustment on district level, with good negotiations can pocket NA-57 & Na-58 and give NA-59 to Major group.
Major group joined hands with PTI in early 2017.
District Chakwal has 2 National Assembly seats,
NA-60: Chakwal city constituency and PTI have done a serious mistake in 2013 when they didn’t award ticket to Sardar Ghulam Abbass in NA-60. Abbass pocketed more than 100K votes as independent candidate. PTI should ensure inclusion of Abbass this time.
NA-61: Rural constituency of Tallagang Tehsil and surrounding areas, PML-Q has good vote bank here and Choudry Pervaiz Elahi himself contested from here but lost. Inclusion of Sardar Ghulam Abbass will also help in this constituency; also PTI should look for other PP level leaders form PML-Q.
District Jehlum also contribute 2 seats to National Assembly and it’s strong hold of PML-N since 1985.
NA-62: Rural / semi rural constituency of district Jehlum, PTI must get some stalwarts from PML-Q. Late Chaudhry Altaf Hussain’s family inclusion may help in giving good completion to PML-N. Son of Choudhry Altaf Hussain, Farrukh Altaf already joined PTI.
NA-63: PTI has already covered a lot in this constituency by including Fawad Choudhry’s inclusion, this proved in by-Elections of Jehlum held in 2016 when PTI given tough fight to PML-N and lost the seat with just 6 thousand votes.
Sargodha contributes 5 national assembly seats and most of constituency structure is semi-rural. Sargodha typically belongs to electable and PML-N, PPP and PML-Q all have influential electable in Sargodha, and PTI now need to look for them. Diaspora of PML-Q can help PTI in this regard. If not then PTI must go for seat adjustment with PML-Q.
NA-64: PTI need to stop resurrection of PPP, there will less chances of PTI where PPP candidate are in strong position. PTI need to search a strong candidate from here.
NA-65 & 66: Both Mela and Lak family could be contacted, local organization need to make better not only here but overall in District Sargodha. Cheema family of PML-Q though they have better hold in NA-67 but their inclusion or seat adjustment with them could help PTI in 2 or 3 NA seats. Head of Mela family Ghias Mela joined PTI after elections of 2013 but he died in 2015.
NA-67: Defiantly Cheema family are main player form here, so PTI has to engage him aggressively.
NA-68: Javaid Hussain shah is important candidate, PTI need to engage him as well.
Khushab has two national assembly seats and both in possession of PML-N.
NA-69: PTI has good candidate in form of Malik Umer Aslam Awan but in 2013 he has very week provincial assembly panel, which was a major reason for his defeat. In By-elections also he lost to Sumaira Malik’s son. PTI has to for separate team to work in interior areas and talk a lot to many independent influentials. Tiwana family must be engaged and there are many influential provincial level leader that must engaged to platform united strength against PML-N.
NA-70: Inclusion of Tiwana’s will be helpful and very importantly Sardar Shuja Mohammad Khan must be engaged, he got more than 60K votes as runner up candidate from this constituency.
Mianwali also has two National assembly seats, PTI won both seats from here but lost one in by-elections.
NA-71: Differences in Niazi family and exclusion of Imran khan’s cousin Inamullah Niazi from PTI affected PTI’s position here and that’s why they lost NA-71 in by-elections. This seat can won easily if Imran runs from here himself.
NA-72: this seat is already with PTI.
A semi tribal district with 2 national assembly constituencies, its game of tribal leaders which PTI can play with little diplomacy
NA-73: Snaullah Mastikhel should be engaged as his opponent Abdulmajeed Khanakhel is already in PML-N.
NA-74: Nawani’s are now ignored by PML-N leadership so they can be approached to pose reasonable threat to PML-N.
District Faisalabad is most populated district of upper Punjab and contributes 11 national Assembly seats. PTI performed very poor in 2013 elections from district Faisalabad. Its candidates were unable to pocket even reasonable votes against PML-N even from Faisalabad city. We can divide Faisalabad district in 3 Parts, Rural Faisabad, NA-75, NA-76, NA-77, NA-78, NA-79, Semi Rural NA-80 & NA-81 while NA-82, NA-83, AN-84 and NA-85 urban constituencies.
In Rural Faialabad PTI has to look for some electables like tariq Mehmood Bajwa, Nawab Sher Waseer, Rana Farooq Saeed Khan, Safdar Shakir etc.
In Semi rural and urban constituencies, PTI should launch some credible personality like Raja Nadir Pervaiz against PML-N current local leadership neither has credibility nor charisma to attract voters towards themselves. Secondly PTI need to look deep into PML-N’s cracks developed in local -bodies elections and poor performance of local bodies that can help them a lot.
Out of 11 Faisalabad seats PTI must win at least 3 urban seats if it want to remain in game.
- Jhang / Chiniot
Jhang and Chiniot districts collectively contribute six national assembly seats, and its heaven of independents and electable. Religious vote bank also counts especially for Jhang city constituency NA-89. PTI missed a good opportunity when Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat defected PTI and re-joined PPP. Faisal Shaleh Hayat has vote bank in at least 2 national assembly seats. In NA-86 PTI has good candidate in form syed Inayat Ali Shah but for NA-87 and NA-88 PTI should engage Syed Abida Hussain’s family to be in better position. Position of NA90 and NA-91 will also be open and PTI may choose from Bharwana family and Sahibzada family.
Gujranwala is third populous district in upper Punjab and contributes 7 national assembly seats. In 2013 PTI performed here very poor against all expectations and couldn’t put up even significant opposition to PML-N. Hopefully PTI will be in arena in more organized way this time.
NA-95, NA-96 and NA-97 builds ups most of Gujranwala city so here PTI just need to be organized and put up a young and dynamic candidate against PML-N heavy weights. In terms of rural areas of districts, for NA-101 PTI has already adjusted Hamid Nasir Chatha and results of by-elections held in 2016 show that this strategy worked though PTI lost the seat with margin of just 1000 votes against one of most credible candidate of PML-N (Justics® Iftikhar Ahmed Cheema. PTI should engage ex or current PPP leaders form NA-100 (Chaudhry Bilal Ejaz )and NA-98 (Imtiaz Safdar Waraich, Nasir Cheema etc) to ensure one on one fight with PML-N
- Hafiz Abad
Hafiz abad district has two National Assembly seats and PTI already has done some work when they included Shoukat Ali Bhatti in their cadre along with ex-MNA Liaqat Abbass Bhatti. So, One on One fight is expected in Hafiz Abad.
District Gujrat has 4 national assembly seats and its home town of PML-Q. Though PML-Q was able to win only one seat but seat adjustment or alliance with PML-Q will be beneficial and they PTI can rally at least 3 seats out of for between them. Further to improve its position PTI need to engage syed Noor ul Hasan Shah from NA-106 and Rehman Naseer and Chaudhry Arshad from NA-107.
- Mandi Bahauddin
District Mandi Bahauddin also contributes two national assembly seats. PTI already in good positon in NA-108 due to inclusion of Tariq Tarar and with support of ex-MNA Ejaz Choudhry it can crack the nut but for NA-109 PTI must engage Nazar Mohammad Gondal and Ghulam Hussain Bosal.
Sialkot is another Population hub of area and has five national Assembly seats. PTI has given good competition to Kh. Asif in 2013 elections in NA-110 and again it is going to be good competition. But in rural areas PTI need to work hard. Inclusion of Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan could be a good step forward in perspective of NA-111. Ali Asjad Malhi, and Ghumman could be other potential candidates from NA-113 and NA-114.
Narowal contributes three national assembly seats. PTI quite not ready for elections in Narowal especially two rural constituencies, NA-115 and AN-116. Tariq Anees the ex-MNA from NA-116 is now in PTI so things would be little tight for Danial Aziz. in 2013 due to unknown reasons PTI didn’t award ticket to Mian Irfan Abid who got reasonable votes as independent candidate from NA-115, he should be re-aligned.
For NA-117 though Ibrar ul haq has good face value but PTI need to have a full time politician for its purpose.