A former president, four former prime ministers, including three-time former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, notable figures, and diverse political leaders are vying in the general elections, as polling will take place today (February 8), as per schedule issued by the Elections Commission of Pakistan.
Pakistan Muslim League-N supreme leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is contesting from NA-15 in Mansehra and NA-130 in Lahore. Former prime minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is vying for seats in NA-123 in Lahore and NA-132 in Kasur. Former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani is running for the NA-148 seat in Multan, while former president Asif Ali Zardari is contesting from NA-207 in Benazirabad.
Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is contesting from NA-52 in Gujjar Khan. Istehkam Pakistan Party President Abdul Aleem Khan is running for NA-117 in Lahore, while party’s Chairman Jahangir Khan Tarin is contesting from NA-149 in Multan and NA-154 in Lodhran. Chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashidi is contesting from NA-203 in Khairpur.
Chief of PTI Parliamentarian Pervez Khattak is contesting from NA-33 in Nowshera. Qaumi Wattan Party Chairperson Aftab Ahmed Sherpao is contesting from NA-24 in Charsadda, while former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser is running for NA-19 in Swabi. PML-Zia chief Ejaz-ul-Haq is a candidate from NA-163 in Bahawalnagar while Chief of Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed is running for NA-56.
Chief of Jamhoori Watan Party Shah Zain Bugti is contesting from NA-253. Awami National Party leader Amil Wali Khan is a candidate from NA-25 Charsadda II. Other notable candidates include Gauhar Ali Khan from NA-10 in Buner, former chief minister Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi from NA-16 in Abbottabad, Ameer Maqam in NA-2 in Swat and NA-11 in Shangla, and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan contesting from NA-53 and NA-54 in Rawalpindi.
Leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Q Chaudhry Salik Hussain is contesting from NA-64 in Gujarat. Convener of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui is running in NA-248 in Karachi central. Chief of Balochistan National Party Akhtar Mengal is a candidate for NA-256 in Khuzdar, NA-261 in Sohrab, and NA-264 in Quetta. Chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmood Achakzai is contesting from NA-263 in Quetta and NA-266 in Chaman.
Chief of Jamiat Ulema Islam-F Fazlur Rehman is participating from Dera Ismail Khan and Pashin while Jamaat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haque is participating from NA-6 Lower Dir-I. former defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is a candidate for NA-71 in Sialkot. PMLN leader Marriyum Nawaz is contesting from NA-119 in Lahore. Chief of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan Saad Rizvi is contesting from NA-50 in Attock.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Caretaker Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi said that the Election Commission of Pakistan would ensure free, fair and transparent elections in a peaceful manner. He said that all registered political parties were given equal opportunities for contesting the elections.
He said the caretaker government had shown full commitment to its mandate and role to assist the Election Commission in terms of security, and financial and administrative support. “The crackdown or the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan and some of his colleagues took place much earlier than the caretaker government took office,” he said.
He said that those arrests and convictions were results of violent attacks by Imran Khan’s party, incited by him against the state institutions, defence installations and public and private property. “The law has taken its course,” he said, adding that no country in the world, be it the United States or any European democracy, will allow violent attacks against state institutions.
To another query, he said that Pakistan’s economy had already improved since the caretaker government took office on August 17 last year. “All economic indicators are positive,” he said while pointing out stability gained by the rupee against dollar. “Pakistan has successfully completed the IMF standby agreement,” he said, hoping that the next elected government would carry forward reforms carried out by the caretaker government which would eventually improve the economy.