MINGORA: A tough contest is expected between the candidates of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and PML-N in the by-elections for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly seat PK-86 Swat-VII today (Thursday).

Local people believe that these two parties are taking the elections very seriously, and each trying to win the seat for showing its popularity among masses.

However, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl candidate is also among the top contenders and could spring a surprise as he is being supported by the Awami National Party.

The prominent candidates are: Sardar Khan of PML-N, Dr Haider Ali Khan PTI and Ali Shah advocate JUI-F.

According to Swat district election officer Mr Qadir, all arrangements have been finalised for the by-elections.

He said that 85 polling stations, including 29 each for males and females and 27 combined, had been set up for 134,614 registered voters.

Of these, 42 polling stations have been categorised as most sensitive and 36 sensitive.

Apart from six candidates of different political parties, three independent candidates are also in the run.

It was for the first time in Swat district that leaders of almost all major political parties actively participated in the election campaign, even reaching far-flung areas of PK-86.

PTI chief Imran Khan visited Khwazakhela in connection with the by-elections while central leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party, ANP, JUI-F and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party also addressed public gatherings in the constituency in support of their respective candidates.

The local leaders of PML-N, led by MNA Ibadullah, actively ran the election campaign for their candidate though no central leader of the party came to the constituency.

Winning this seat has become a challenge for PML-N because the seat had fallen vacant after disqualification of its lawmaker Qiamoos Khan.

Sardar Khan, younger brother of the sacked MPA, is the PML-N candidate this time.

The ruling PTI has fielded former MPA Dr Haider Ali Khan in the elections, who was third during May 2013 general elections in the same constituency.

The then PTI candidate, Mohammad Zeb Khan, had stood fifth in May 2013 elections, but this time the party leadership hopes that its new candidate would perform better.

ANP has withdrawn its candidate Adalat Khan in favour of JUI-F candidate Ali Shah advocate to defeat Dr Haider, who had left ANP and joined PTI.

The ANP’s decision has strengthened the position of Ali Shah who was the runner-up in the May 2013 general elections in PK-86.