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LAHORE: In the upcoming local government elections in Punjab, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is considering three names for the slot of Mayor of Lahore including Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar and Punjab Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Minister Mahmood ur Rasheed and Senator Waleed Iqbal.

Sources in the party told Business Recorder on Monday that Mahmood-ur-Rasheed has a slight edge over other potential candidates. “He is a senior politician and knows all the complexities of local government elections and its dynamics. Hence, the PTI organisers in Lahore believe that he can be the winning horse,” they added.

It may be mentioned that he has been in politics since the 1980s. Before joining the PTI, he was an active member of the Jamaat-e-Islami. Previously, he was an MPA from 1988 to 1993 and again from May 2013 to May 2018. He served as the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly from June 2013 to May 2018.

“Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar,” they said, “is also a strong candidate. The young energetic Minister is the son of veteran politician and former Punjab governor Mian Muhammad Azhar and belongs to a powerful political family of Lahore. Before assuming the charge of the current ministry, he had served as the Federal Economic Affairs Minister and Federal Industries and Production Minister; thus, he has gained experience in running an institution. These very attributes keep him in the race for the slot of Mayor Lahore.”

The name of Senator Waleed Iqbal is also very much floating in the PTI; since he is also from Lahore (and in the past had reservations about the party policy on seat allocations), the PTI is keeping its option open by including his name in the list of potential candidates.

Sources privy to the party matters said that the local bodies’ elections will most likely be held in March or April, and the PTI is very optimistic about winning the elections. They said that the party feels the Insaf Health Card, which will be officially launched in the first week of January, will win votes for them; over 400 million families will benefit from the free health services.

“Positive figures relating to inflation have also given hope to the party; it is anticipated that the prices of essential items will see a significant decrease in the coming months while prices of petrol will also reverse. These factors have boosted the morale of the party and see it as a good omen in the elections,” said the sources.

According to them, the party is also banking on its huge Annual Development Programme for Punjab. The Punjab government’s initiative of allocating and distributing funds to districts for development works will display its work among the voters. Since the development work in various districts is in progress, the party believes that it will send a positive message to the voters.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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