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TAXILA: Candidates thronged the judicial complex here on Monday to file nomination papers for the by-elections in PP-7 (Taxila- Chakri) Rawalpindi-IV, scheduled to be held on September 26.

The seat has fallen vacant after the death of PTI MPA Mohammad Sadeeq Khan.

Of the three main candidates, PTI’s Ammar Sadeeq joined politics after the sudden death of his father.

Though a newcomer in politics, he belongs to a politically powerful family.

He is an uncle of former federal minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and former MPA Shafeeq Khan. Both of them are extending all-out support to him in the elections.

Haji Umar Farooq of the PML-N, who belongs to the Kohistan group, remained an MPA from Wah Cantt (PP-8) during 1997-1999. A businessman by profession, he served as the chairman Municipal Committee Taxila from 1992 to 1993.

His wife, Zille Huma remained MPA from PP-8 (Rawalpindi-VIII) during 2008-2013. Now she is also in the provincial assembly on a reserved seat.

The third candidate is Chaudhry Kamran Aslam, a former provincial parliamentary secretary for revenue. Mr Aslam and Sarwar Khan were sailing in the same boat in the last general elections but now they are opposing each other.

He won the 2002 elections as an independent candidate from Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s “Khan group” by defeating PML-N’s Safeer Khan.

Mr Aslam later joined the PML-Q and was appointed as the provincial parliamentary secretary. He later parted way with his party leader and contested for the national as well as provincial assembly seats as an independent candidate but lost to the PTI candidate. Now he is contesting the by-elections on a PPP ticket.

Sources said the local PTI group led by Ghulam Sarwar Khan has planned to counter his rival using his expertise and skills in electioneering. Much before the election campaign, he motivated his group in the rural areas of PP-7 to keep his vote bank intact.

On the other hand, the PML-N is trying to bring to its fold those citizens who did not cast their votes for any reason in the last elections.

The ruling party is also trying to win the public sympathy on the basis of the projects it launched such as Rescue 1122, Wah General Hospital and development works in different union councils.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ai Khan held a workers’ convention at Kohistan secretariat last month in which he directed the local party leadership to mobilise the PML-N vote bank.

Dr Syed Sabir Ali, a political observer, said the PML-N was trying to use the development projects launched in the area to win votes while the PTI candidates would exploit the current over 16 hours daily power loadshedding and the unavailability of the ruling party leadership.

He said sympathy votes would play a key role due to the sudden death of Sadeeq Khan.

He said the PTI was also utilising the social media to target the youth and this factor would also play a decisive role on the polling day.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2016