ISLAMABAD, Aug 21: With the backing of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and after a month long campaigning, Asad Umar, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate in the NA-48 by-polls, would be considering himself in a better position than his rivals vying for the national assembly seat from this constituency.
This is especially the case as the major candidates of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were more focused on each other than on their political opponent.
The NA-48 seat fell vacant after PTI President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, after winning it in the May 11 general elections, decided to retain the other seat he won from his native Multan constituency.
Asad Umar’s main rival will be Chaudhry Ashraf Gujjar Advocate of the PML-N, but for most of the period, Mr Gujjar had been attempting to retain the party ticket that had been challenged by Anjum Aqeel Khan of the same party.
Although a former member of the National Assembly from the constituency, Anjum Aqeel had lost the seat to Mr Hashmi with a margin of over 21,000 votes in the May 11elections.
Mr Hashmi had secured 73,878 votes against Mr Aqeel’s 52,206.
Apart from the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf support in the constituency, Asad Umar would also benefit from the hardcore vote of the JI.
Mian Aslam, the JI candidate in 2013 elections who had won the seat in 2002, has already withdrawn from the race in favour of the PTI candidate.
He had obtained 25,048 votes in the May 11 elections.
To prove that the PTI-JI alliance was working well, PTI’s vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi actively participated in the recent rally led by JI Chief Munawar Hassan against the overthrowing of Egypt’s elected government.
“Even if a small number of our supporters vote for Asad Umar, it will be a booster for him,” a JI worker in Islamabad said.
On the other hand, the late decision of the PML-N leadership to finalise its candidate after an internal rift has been a drawback for Ashraf Gujjar.
The party cadre was concerned about the internal rift especially since Mr Gujjar is a new comer in the election politics.
Previously, he had been focusing on the lawyers’ community and had never been in the inner circle of the hardcore party workers in Islamabad.
Due to the internal rift, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership finalised its candidate just eight days before the by-polls.
The third major candidate in the run is Faisal Sakhi Butt of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) who secured only 9,178 votes in the May 11 elections.
It is worth mentioning that the PPP has never won a seat from this constituency in the past.