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HARIPUR: The intending candidates, contesting for NA-19, Haripur, have kicked off their informal electioneering after the Supreme Court ordered holding of fresh polls in the constituency a week ago.

A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Jawad S. Khwaja, in a verdict on June 19, 2015, ordered holding of re-elections in the constituency. After the May 2013 general elections, Dr Raja Aamir Zaman of PTI had won the seat by a margin of 2,000 votes from his rival candidate Omar Ayub Khan of PML-N. But, the latter had challenged the elections on a plea of rigging committed at selective polling stations.

On his petition, a divisional bench of the Supreme Court ordered re-polling in the questionable polling stations. The Election Commission of Pakistan organised the re-polling in seven polling stations including Kalinjer, Alooli, Bagra and Mamrial on January 29, 2014. Omar Ayub won the seat by a margin of 640 votes.

But, Raja Aamir challenged the process of re-polling at selective polling stations and filed a petition in the Supreme Court to get it nullified. The Supreme Court set aside the earlier verdict and ordered re-elections in the constituency and paved the way for all the aspirants trying their luck for the seat.

PML-N and PPP short of suitable candidates

During the local bodies’ elections, Raja Aamir extended complete support to the people of his traditional castes-based faction. In his native area, most of his candidates contesting for different tiers of union councils bagged the seats.

His political rival Oamar Ayub kept himself away from the local bodies exercise. His ardent supporters lost the district and tehsil council seats from his native union council of Rehana. He stayed away from a process, which needed him to be neutral. So, he whiled away elections times in Islamabad.

Raja Aamir, like all the traditional candidates, visited various families in Haripur and condoled them over the stale and fresh deaths of their kith and kin.

He also met some of elders of different bradries (caste-based communities) and sought their support in the forthcoming polls. At present, he is certain to bag the seat as he is not facing any unchallengeable candidates in the run. PML-N has no more organisation in the city. As all its activists had joined PTI before the local bodies’ elections.

Former MNA Sardar Mohammad Mushtaq, who remained loyal to Mian Nawaz Sharif during the latter’s exile, could not get party ticket in 2013 elections. Omar Ayub was PML-N candidate. Sardar Mushtaq joined PPP in haste and lost the elections. Like Raja and Tareen families, Sardar Mushtaq too got his younger brother pushed into the PTI folds. 

Who will be the PML-N candidate? It is not clear. If PML-N nominates Pir Sabir Shah, it will be a great blunder.

Pir Sahib is not fit for a constituency spread from Daman-i-Koh to Nara Amazai, across the Sindh River, abutting on boundaries of Swabi, Buner, Abbottabad and Mansehra. At present, PML-N is short of suitable candidates in its stable. PPP is also a thing of the past.

If PTI fields, as reported by the local vernacular press, Reham Khan, it will be a political as well a loyalty test for the budding PTI leaders.

The traditional power houses will employ all tactics to discourage her. So for, residents of Haripur had tolerated masters, but now they need representatives, not masters, who visit them once in a five-year term.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2015

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