MANSEHRA, April 27: Independent candidates have the edge over those fielded by political parties for two national assembly seats each from Battagram and Kohistan districts, according to local political analysts.

However, there is a high likelihood that NA-22, Battagram and NA-23, Kohistan will see a tough contest on May 11.

Analyst Sarfraz Khan told Dawn on Saturday that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl had given tickets to strong candidates for election in the two constituencies but independent contestants had an advantage over them.

“It will be premature to say who will win the election but what’s certain is that it’s going to be a tough contest between independent, JUI-F and PML-N candidates,” he said.

In NA-22, Battagram, 31 candidates had filed nomination papers but after withdrawal and rejection of candidatures, there are 12 people in the running.

In the constituency, the real contest is among independent candidate Prince Nawaz Khan, Alamzeb Khan of PML-N and Qari Mohammad Yousaf of JUI-F.

In the 2008 elections, Prince Nawaz was elected MNA from NA-22 with the support of the people of Allai tehsil, his native land. He is supported by a sizeable local population.

Qari Mohammad Yousaf of JUI-F, too, was an ex-MNA and is a popular candidate in Battagram.

Alamzeb Khan of PML-N, who is also a former MNA, is considered to be a strong candidate.

In NA-23, 29 candidates had filed nomination papers but currently, only 14 of them are now contesting the election.

Among strong candidates are independent Sarzameen Khan, Malik Saeed Khan of PML-N and Mehboobullah Jan of JUI-F.

Sarzameen Khan is considered strong because he is a nominee of an influential local grouping, Patan Kial Alliance.

Mehboobullah  Jan won the 2008 election as an independent candidate but later joined PPP.

Now, he’s contesting election on the JUI-F ticket. He stands a good chance of winning the seat due to the presence of religious people in large numbers.

The position of Malik Saeed, an ex-MNA, too, is also strong due to popularity of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif among local residents.

Analyst Sarfraz said he expected a low voter turnout on May 11.

“The people are disinterested. Their presence at corner meetings of the candidates is low, so I feel voter turnout in the tow constituencies will be low,” he said.


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