‘JEEP’ emerges as a controversial symbol in Pakistan’s Election

By Shiraz Hasnat

Lahore:  The electoral symbol of jeep has sparked a new controversy during the tumultuous pre-election political scenario in the country. Chaudhary Nisar, the estranged PML-N stalwart pioneered in securing the” jeep” which now boasts of a large number of amorous suitors, resulting in its debut in the media’s spotlight. It turned into a common notion that all the “Jeep riders” have secured their victory in the elections. So much so that the majority of other estranged PML-N leaders and those denied the tickets too preferred to serenade the public with jeep as their electoral symbol, strengthening the notion that a likeminded group of the ex-PML-N will be formed to add fuel to the fire surrounding this party.

Some political analysts even suggested that this is an “army jeep”, which resulted in a press conference by the army spokesperson categorically denying this allegation and saying that army jeeps are not of this color.  With the rising demand of this symbol, Chaudhary Nisar too gave an explanation saying that he is not planning to make a likeminded group of ex-PML-N nor has he suggested other candidates to demand for this symbol, he chose it of his own freewill and all other notions are based on falsehood.

The popularity of this symbol can be gauged from such reports that in some constituencies more than one candidate applied for this symbol so the returning officers resorted to a toss to justify allotting the symbol. Lahore’s NA-132 is one such constituency where the toss resulted in the favor of Muhammad Ramzan who will now pursue public’s support with the jeep.

As many as 6 candidates from 30 national assembly seats while 26 candidates out of 30 provincial assembly seats have got the election symbol of jeep. The dissident leaders of PML N, Zaeem Qadri from NA 125, Tajamul Hussain from NA 129 are contesting on Jeep symbol. While the remaining candidates are Muhammad Nazim from NA 128, Nadeem Ahmed from NA 131, Muhammad Ramzan from NA 132 and Sardar Kamil umer from NA 136.

26 candidates who got the jeep symbol are Muhammad Naveed from PP 144, Inam Ullah Khan from PP 145, Mian Salman Shoib from PP 146, Ali Adnan from 148, Ajasam Sharif from PP 149, Muahmmad Akram from 150, Haider abbas from PP 151, Saeed Ahmed Khan from pp 152, Allau Din from PP 153, Waheed Gul from PP 154, Mian Abid Ali from PP 155, Muhammad Zubiar from PP 156, Sikander Ali Shah from PP 157, Mian Saleem Raza from PP 158, Mian Naeem Mir from PP 159, Saad Farrukh from PP 160, Ali Irfan from PP 161, Miraj Hussain from PP 162, Ashraf Masih from PP 163, Ghulam Muhammad from PP 164, Nasir Javed from PP 165, Muahmmad Idrees from PP 166, Muahmmad Shahbaz from PP 168, Rana Bakhtyar from PP 171 and Shahzad nazir from PP 172.  

 The candidates contesting the elections with jeep symbol state different reasons behind their choice. Some claimed that since it is their constitutional right given by the Election Commission to choose a symbol, jeep is as good a choice as any other symbol. Others felt that since most of the election campaign is conducted on jeeps so this seemed like a very apt choice. On the condition of anonymity one of the estranged PML-N leaders disclosed that since Chaudhry Nisar has chosen this symbol so other likeminded candidates are also preferring it in order to make a support group in the post-election scenario.

Public had a mixed reaction to the jeep symbol, some said that it either denoted the exPML-N leaders or the support of the establishment. Others felt that this acquiring this symbol can work both in the favor of the candidate and against their interest as well. Still others believed that it is an ordinary electoral symbol and will not have much effect since the real tug of war will be between those candidates who are ticket holders of the leading political parties.