ABBOTTABAD: A tough contest is expected between the PML-N and PTI for Abbottabad’s two National Assembly seats though all major parties have fielded candidates in the NA-15 and NA-16 constituencies.

In the last general elections, the two seats were claimed by the PML-N and PTI each.

The observers foresee a repeat of those election results after a close contest between the two parties.

Both parties face rifts over poll nominations

Withdrawal of nomination papers by 16 candidates has left 31 in the running on Friday.

Seven candidates withdrew their papers in NA-15 and nine in NA-16.

Sardar Sher Yar Khan, the eldest son of PML-N leader Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan, withdrew nomination papers in NA-16 and Sardar Mahtab in NA-15.

The insiders claimed that rivals within the party had managed to sideline Sardar Mahtab, a close aide of PML-N quaid Nawaz Sharif and thus, securing the NA-15 ticket for former National Assembly deputy speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi.

They said Sardar Mahtab was once considered kingmaker in the party’s local as well as provincial politics but he was not in good books of Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law and former MNA retired captain Safdar, who supported Murtaza Abbasiand party provincial president Amir Muqam against Sardar Mahtab.

The sources said PML-N new chief Shahbaz Sharif was also acting as desired by rivals of Sardar Mahtab.

They said it would be the first elections since 1985 in which Sardar Mahtab had no role in the party’s poll nominations.

They said Sardar Mahtab’s son didn’t enjoy public support as he was less known to the people compared to his brother, Sardar Shamoon Mahtab, a former MPA from PK-44.

The observers said if PML-N and PTI lost elections, then internal rifts would be to blame.

They said the PTI had denied election ticket to strong aspirant and former deputy speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob and named Ali Asghar Khan, the younger son of late Air Marshal Asghar Khan.

The observers said Ali Asghar was not a local resident and belonged to Abbottabad city, while Sardar Yaqoob’s tribe belonged to the constituency and therefore, the latter had an edge over the former.

Noted NA-15 candidates are independent Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob, Murtaza Javed Abbasi of the PML-N, Ali Asghar Khan of the PTI, SM Iqbal of the MMA and Ayaz Khan Jadoon,and NA-16’s Ali Khan Jadoon of the PTI, Mohabat Awan of the PML-N, independent Shaukat Tanoli, Ayaz Khan Jadoon and Saeed Mughal.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2018