Sheikhupura is named after the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who built this city and was known to his father, Akbar, as Sheikhu. Jahangir built the city’s famous fort and its major landmark, Hiran Minar, the tomb of the emperor’s most prized deer, Mansraj. The district also houses the tomb of legendary Punjabi poet Waris Shah in the town of Jandiala Sher Khan. Waris Shah’s work, Heer Ranjha, is one of the most celebrated volumes of Punjabi literature. The area has also produced national-level cricketers including Aaqib Javed, Imran Nazir and Mohammed Asif.
The district had seven National Assembly seats in the 2002 elections, but this time around it has been left with just two of its own seats while it shares three with Nankana Sahib, a district carved out of Sheikhupura in 2005. Sheikhupura comprises of Ferozewala, Sheikhupura, Muridke and Sharqpur subdivisions.
The city of Sheikhupura is an important industrial centre and its industrial units provide most of the area’s employment. The city has attracted major multinationals over the years including ICI, Nestle and Honda. Incidentally, it is also a major gun-smuggling hub and has one of the highest crime rates in the province.
Zulfiqar Ahmed Dhillon, a former military officer representing the PMLQ, beat Rana Tanveer Hussain of the PMLN by 6,000 votes to clinch this seat in the 2002 election. The two will battle it out again in February, with Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmed Gujjar of the PPP, a lawyer who was elected to the Punjab Assembly in 2002, also in the run.
Dhillon is also a former member of the provincial assembly and served as the Punjab education minister under Shahbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Punjab, from 1997 to 1999. Hussain was elected to the National Assembly in 1990 and 1997 and served as a parliamentary secretary but was disqualified from public office for 10 years after being convicted on corruption charges. However, the Lahore High Court later absolved him of the charges. His nephew is tehsil nazim of Ferozewala, which is a part of this constituency.
Mian Jaleel Ahmed Sharkpuri of the PMLN won this seat in 2002, 10,000 votes ahead of Mian Mohammed Azhar, then president of the PMLQ. Sharkpuri later joined hands with the PMLQ and resigned from his seat to become district nazim. Shahid Manzoor Gill of the PMLQ, a two-time former provincial legislator, won the seat in a by-election in 2005. However, Gill’s claim to fame is also his father-in-law: then Sheikhupura SP, Abdullah Khalid hit the headlines in September 2005 when he was accused of involvement in the rape and harassment of Sonia Naz, a woman from Faisalabad who was arrested for entering the National Assembly without permission.
Gill will be hoping to retain this seat in Febuary’s polls against newcomer Ghayoor Abbas Bukhari of the PPP and the PMLN’s Rana Tanveer Hussain who is also contesting from NA-131. Another candidate to watch here is Mian Waleed Ahmed Sharakpuri, a close relative of the 2002 winner and a scion of the family of Mian Sher Mohammad Sharakpuri, a early twentieth century saint buried in the town of Sharakpur. Waleed Ahmed is contesting the elections as an independent candidate.
Mohammad Saeed Virk of the PMLQ beat Mian Munawwar Latif of the PMLN by 5,500 votes here in 2002. Virk served as parliamentary secretary for local government and rural development in the last administration and was among a group of 35 dissident party MNAs who unsuccessfully urged their party chief, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, to resign in 2005.
Virk, whose nephew Bilal Ahmed Virk is the Sheikhupura tehsil nazim, will defend his seat in February against Mian Javed Latif of the PMLN, a former member of the district council and MPA in 1997 and the brother of the runner-up in 2002, as well as Malik Mushtaq Ahmed Awan of the PPP. Awan is a senior party leader who served as a provincial minister in his party’s only government in Punjab since 1977. He finished fourth in this race in 2002, when he was in detention on corruption charges levelled by the National Accountability Bureau.
Khurram Munawwar Manj of the PPP won by a comfortable 12,000 vote margin here in 2002, with Sardar Mohammad Irfan Dogar of the PMLN finishing as the runner-up. Manj is contesting on a PMLQ ticket this time. His father Munawwar Manj has served in both the provincial and national assemblies and was arrested during Benazir Bhutto’s second government on charges of drug smuggling. He was sentenced to death in 2001, but the Lahore High Court later acquitted him. He is now contesting a provincial assembly seat.
Khurram Manj’s main challengers for NA-134 will be Dogar, who is the PMLN’s district president, and newcomer Noorul Ain, the PPP candidate. The latter, however, is from a known political family: she is the daughter of the late lawmaker Rai Saeed Ahmed and the niece of Rai Ijaz Ahmed, the 1993 Punjab minister and 2002 provincial legislator. Rai Ijaz is reported to be carrying out most of her election campaign. The Dogars and Rais are traditional political rivals.