With general elections in Pakistan just under a year away, all eyes are on the district of Lahore; today’s by-election is being viewed as a litmus test for the ruling Pakistani Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N).
A PML-N stronghold since 1985, the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in July has breathed new life into opposition parties in Lahore.
Yasmin Rashid, of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, is contesting the district on a platform of health, basic infrastructure and anti-corruption. Rashid is hoping to build on her success in the 2013 election, where she became the first candidate to secure more than 50,000 votes against Mr Nawaz.
The PML-N candidate and wife of the ousted PM, Kulsoom Nawaz, has sought to tap into deep loyalties for her husband and frame the election as an opportunity to vindicate Mr Nawaz Sharif. While much has been made of the prime minister’s disqualification, Lahore’s voters are most concerned about economic empowerment and the provision of services.
Expect the deeply entrenched loyalties held to the Sharif family – one privately commissioned survey has support at 69% – to carry Kulsoom Nawaz to electoral victory in Lahore. For Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, this election will be a test run of their platform ahead of the 2018 election.
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