NA-131 will serve as the ground where the actual match between PMLN and PTI will take place. The whole of Lahore has its eyes fixated on the enthralling encounter of the party leader Imran Khan and former minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. Let’s take a ride to the political triumphs and missteps of both highly influential candidates.
Party: Pakistan Tehreek- i-Insaf
Highest Office Held: Member National Assembly and Chief of PTI
Things you need to know:
Cricketer turned politician, Khan is often credited with awakening this nation from dormancy. Khan has remained a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from 2013 to 2018. The establishment of Shaukat Khanam Hospital and Namal University certifies Imran as a philanthropist as well. Imran Khan challenged for a seat in the National Assembly in October 2002 and worked as an opposition participant from Mianwali till 2007. After boycotting 2008 general elections he stepped again into parliament in 2013, where PTI emerged as the second leading party in the republic by general polls.
Imran Khan’s political portfolio after the general elections of 2013 is blotched with several backlashes at the ruling party and the parliament. Khan has always played the card of mass mobilization of his supporters, seizing the country, and holding blazing rallies. Despite his frenzied approach, Khan has always promised this nation a regime change. He stands as a leader who brought the revolution of accountability in this country.
Imran Khan has often been deemed as a man backed by the establishment and that fear has only grown as we get closer to the elections. On several occasions, Khan has been noted to suggest that the armed forces take action against the Sharif family. The other big criticism Khan has faced is giving tickets to same old politicians that he promised a change from. Many have suggested that Imran might have lost all his credibility in his pursuit to become a Prime Minister.
Khwaja Saad Rafique
Party: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz
Highest Office Held: Minister of Railways
Things you need to know:
Khawaja Saad Rafique who joined hands with PML-N as a student activist stood with the party like a rock. He weathered many storms with PML-N, even imprisonment. Rafique is an eminent Pakistani politician and his most prominent and controversial post has been that of Minister for Railways in Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s cabinet from 2017 to 2018.
Rafique had also been a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from 2002 to May 2018 and served as Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for Youth Affairs during his second term from 1997 to 1999. He was the one who kept PML-N alive during the time as democracy was battered severely by martial law.
Saad Rafique has been criticised for corruption and election rigging in the past, though none of it was ever been proven. Having said that, PML-N has been under tight scrutiny for the past couple of months and Nawaz Sharif and Mariyam Nawaz being put in Adiala for corruption doesn’t make things easier.
Who has a greater Chance?
Uncertainty looms NA 131 as two extremes of people can be seen; staunch supporters of PML-N and resolute ‘Naya Pakistan’ devotees. Imran Khan’s enticing ideas of making Pakistan Switzerland might give him lead over the former Railway minister but there is an equal chance of his campaign turning to a damp squib as he is hailed as a ‘political stranger’ in that very locality. This constituency has a rich history with PML and a long enduring relationship. Moreover, recent arrests of the ex-premier and his daughter along with several party workers have made many view PML-N as a party fighting the establishment, which could just go in Khawaja Saad Rafique’s favor. In any case, Rafique won’t be an easy opponent.