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MANSEHRA: While welcoming the bifurcation of Kohistan, PML-N MNA from Kohistan Sarzameen Khan has opposed the candidacy of an ‘outsider’ for the PK-62 Lower Kohistan district’s seat vacated by JUI-F lawmaker.

A jirga consisting of elders from Upper and Lower Kohistan has announced support for Zargul Khan, the president of PTI Hazara division and a resident of Torghar district, for the PK-62 by-election to be held after the resignation of the incumbent MPA, Maulana Asmatullah.

The PML-N MNA told reporters here on Monday that the people of Lower Kohistan would never accept an outsider (Zargul Khan) as their representative in the provincial assembly.

“I appreciate the bifurcation of Kohistan but oppose the idea of importing a resident of Torghar for contesting the PK-62 by-election,” he said.

Mr Sarzameen said in the past, too, outsiders including former governor Fazal Haq and former minister Abbas Sarfraz had contested the National Assembly elections in Kohistan but suffered massive defeat and that that would happen again if an outside was fielded for the PK-62 by-election.

He said the PTI should field a local young and educated resident for the by-polls.

The MNA said even if PTI chairman Imran Khan contested the general elections in NA-23, he would be defeated.

Sarzameen Khan was elected from Kohistan’s only National Assembly constituency as an independent candidate and joined the PML-N afterwards.

He was made a parliamentary secretary of industries.

PROTEST THREATENED: The people affected by the 800 megawatts Suki Kanari hydropower project have warned they will protest in Balakot on March 17 if the government doesn’t accept their demands, especially due payments.

“We want all those incentives and land rates given to the families affected by the Diamar-Bhasha and Dasu dams. Ironically, the government acquired our lands without paying their price as well as those of the built-up property,” chairman of the action committee Mian Ashraf told reporters in Balakot on Monday after a meeting called to decide the future line of action on the matter.

Mr Ashraf said the landowners had decided to come onto the streets to claim their rights.

He said as the dam being built in Kaghan valley on the Kunhar River would affect the people’s commercial lands, the government should pay them the market rate of the land, built-up property and trees.

“We are going to lodge our protest on Friday. If the government is sincere about addressing our problems, it should notify the mutually agreed land prices and make payments to the affected families without delay,” he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to visit Mansehra earlier this year to inaugurate the Suki Kanari hydropower power project being executed under the multibillion dollars proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

However, the visit was delayed after landowners threatened to block the work on the project.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2017