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LAHORE: A two-way fight is expected between the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in NA-127, where Chairman Pakistan Peoples’ Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has entered to try his luck in Lahore - once known for extending unwavering support to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

The PML-N has awarded a ticket to Atta Ullah Tarrar while the PTI is backing an independent candidate, Malik Zaheer Abbas Khokhar. The constituency, situated almost in the middle of the town, is a combination of poor, middle and upper middle class. An impressive presence of Christian community voters is another salient feature of it.

A survey conducted by the Business Recorder a day before the polling day suggested that traditional PML-N pockets in the constituency have pinned high hopes on the party regarding the revival of business activities after the polls. Some people said the PTI has disappointed the voters throughout its tenure in the government.

Meanwhile, the impression of the sale and purchase of votes was very strong among the voters. However, none of them was able to provide any evidence. They blamed the PPP and the PML-N for securing voters’ identity cards, particularly those from the slum areas like Phatak Mandi and Township.

The PML-N voters were quite open to expressing their loyalty and views, while those from the PTI avoided commenting. “The PTI voters are not exposing themselves, though they are determined to cast their vote on the polling day by all means,” said Mohammad Ashfaq, resident of Kacha Jail Road.

Some others pointed out that the PTI faced difficulty in having sufficient polling agents as no one was ready to take the risk under the prevailing political situation. Abid Mehmood, another resident of the area, said the administration has made the PTI voters and supporters’ hostage’ to their tactics of keeping the PTI away from canvassing in the constituency.

The PTI-backed independent candidate Zaheer Abbas Khokhar has not held any public meeting in the constituency. The majority said the candidates from religious parties are unpopular among the constituents.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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