NA-89, the hub of sectarian strife
NA-89 is one of the religiously-intrigued constituencies of Pakistan. It has its importance due to its sectarian strife. The constituency is spread along with the River Chenab in rural area. The area is commonly known because of its Shiite-Sunni divide.
The area, known as home district of the founder of anti-shite hard liner defunct Deoband faction Sipah-e-Sohaba Pakistan (SSP), currently working with the new name Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ), comprises of 312,773 registered votes according to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Former chiefs of defunct SSP had been contesting general elections on this seat since 1988. In general elections 2008 PMLQ’s Sheikh Waqas Akram won bagging 51,976 against 45,216 votes of SSP’s chief Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi. Total number of registered votes in the constituency is 312,773 while 129,838 votes were polled in the 2008 general elections, according to ECP data. Mr. Akram secured 46 percent of the polled votes while Mr. Ludhianvi obtained 36 percent in 2008. In general elections 2002, the then SSP chief Maulana Azam Tariq won this seat obtaining 41,125 votes. Dr Tahirul Qadri - moderate cleric who marched towards Islamabad this year for electoral reforms- stood second bagging 34,186 votes. Mr. Akram, the sitting MNA stood third with 31,959 votes. In 2002, Maulana Azam Tariq contested and won this seat as an independent candidate. He was imprisoned at the time of the election and his organization was banned. He beat Dr Mohammad Tahirul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik by 7,000 votes. Mr. Tariq, a hard line Deobandi cleric blamed for the killings of many Shias, was released shortly after the election. He then joined the pro-government coalition despite the fact that his militant organization, the SSP, had been declared a terrorist outfit and banned, according to media reports. Mr. Tariq was gunned down in October 2003 just outside Islamabad in what was reported to be the fourth assassination attempt on him.
Later, Sheikh Waqas Akram of the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam won the by-election from the seat after Mr. Tariq’s murder. The runner-up was Maulana Alam Tariq, Azam Tariq’s younger brother. PML-Q’s Mr. Akram had earlier won in 2002 from another constituency. His father Sheikh Muhammad Akram had remained MNA and Tehsil Nazim as well. His uncle Sheikh Iqbal also remained MNA. In the upcoming general elections 2013, SSP - contesting elections in independent capacity- PMLQ, and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf are expected as the main rivals while PML-Nawaz is likely to support SSP candidate, according to media reports.(link) The current candidate from SSP from the area is Mr. Ludhianvi, chief of ASWJ. He announced his plan to contest general elections 2013 in a recent interview with The News on Sunday (Link).
“We have decided to field candidates on 20 national assembly seats till now. From Jhang, I will be the candidate for the National Assembly seat against Sheikh Waqas Akram, the sitting Member National Assembly from Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam).” The first political expression of hardliner Deoband organization was the rise in the political fortunes of Maulana Manzoor Ahmed Chinioti in the mid-1980s. His election campaigns focused on the anti-Ahmadi plank because of the geographical proximity of Rabwa, the headquarters of the Ahmadi movement, to his constituency in the Chiniot city. A study of the electoral history of the Jhang also shows another prominent cleric with a successful political career was Maulana Rahmatullah who won a National Assembly seat from the district against prominent local politicians who were incidentally all Shias. Even in the 2002 elections he got about 30,000 votes on one of the two National Assembly seats in the district. He contested the polls as a candidate of the MMA. These two clerics were later eclipsed by the subsequent formation and rise of the SSP. History, demographics of Jhact. A vast majority of the area lives in rural areas. Two rivers, legendary Chenab and Jhelum join each other at Trimmu in this district. Jhang is not just known for politics, sectarianism and its saints. It has also been home to Dr Abdul Salam, a leading physicist of the twentieth century and the first and only Pakistani winner of the Nobel Prize. He was raised in Jhang and is buried in Rabwa, the headquarters of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan. Jhang district in central Punjab is the setting for the tragic love story of Heer Ranjha, immortalized in Punjabi literature by Waris Shah.
Famous for its rich indigenous culture, Jhang is also well known for the furniture produced in the city of Chiniot. It is situated in the central Punjab and lies between 30.37 to 31.59 degree North latitudes and 71.37 to 73.13 degree East longitudes. Punjab’s official history of Jhang reads that the Punjabi folk dances such as Jhummar and Sammi are popular in this area. Jhummar is a dance for men while Sammi is for women. The famous form of folk music is known as Dhola or Jhang da Dhola. The men wear turbans and dhotis (like a kilt) though in recent years people have started wearing the national dress which is shalwar kameez. The old women still wear dhotis (skirts) but the younger women wear shalwar kameez. Tent Pagging (naiza baazi) and kabaddi are very popular among the people of Jhang. The area was inhabited at the time of Alexander but the present city of Jhang was built in 1288. The area has 1,654 primary schools, 181 middle schools, 137 high schools and 15 higher secondary schools, according to the Punjab government official statistics. The literacy rate of the district is 52 percent according to official documents (A person is considered literate in Pakistan if he can write his name and do signatures, according to UNESCO).Link title
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