MARDAN: With the elections less than three weeks away, tough contests are expected among the Awami National Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal in Mardan district.

The political parties have already accelerated their bids to drum up support for their assembly nominees across the district.

The formal launch of their campaigning had initially suffered delays due to differences over nominations and hot weather.

The district has three national and eight provincial assembly seats with 93 candidates of political and religious parties vying for them.

For the first time in the district’s history, three women are contesting elections on general seats. Among them are Qaumi Watan Party’s Imtiaz Bibi, Awami Workers Party’s Rihana Bibi, and PPP’s Khaista Begum, the widow of former provincial assembly speaker Abdul Akbar Khan.

The observers insist that the voter turnout will be lower compared to the 2013 elections’due to the overall disinterest of the people.

The PML-N hasn’t fielded candidate for NA-21 with the people attributing it to its seat adjustment agreement with the JUI-F. A rickshaw driver is also contesting election in the constituency.

Three women among 93 candidates for NA, PA seats

Four people are contesting election in both national and provincial constituencies at the same time. They include ANP leader and former chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti in NA-21 and PK-53, PTI leader and former education minister Mohammad Atif Khan in NA-21 and PK-50, PPP leader and former federal minister Khawaja Mohammad Khan in NA-20 and PK-50 and PML-N leader Jamshed Khan Mohmand in NA-22 and PK-55.

The PTI-Gulalai, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, JUI-Sami, Muslim League-Zia and Aman Taraqi Party have fielded candidates in one constituency only. The Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan has fielded six candidates, Qaumi Watan Party three and All Pakistan Muslim League two.

Three cousins, including Nawabzada Khawaja Mohammad Khan Hoti, Nawabzada Aurangzeb Khan Hoti and Nawabzada Arsala Khan Hoti, are also taking part in the elections.

Mr Aurangzeb and Mr Arsala will face each in PK-52.

The PML-N has awarded tickets to two brothers, including Jamshed Khan Mohmand and Mumtaz Khan Mohmand, to contest election in different constituencies.

Also in the running are uncles and nephews. ANP candidate Gul Nawaz Khan is contesting election in NA-20 and his nephew and MMA candidate, Ibrahim Biland, in PK-49.

Likewise, Mohammad Azam Khan is an independent candidate in PK-50 and his nephew also an independent candidate in PK-49.

Also, former minister Rahim Dad Khan and his son-in-law, Shoaib Alam Khattak, are contesting election on PPP tickets.

Among the candidates are four district presidents of various political parties, including Himayatullah Mayar of the ANP, Aurangzeb Khan of the PPP, Dr Attaur Rehman of the Jamaat-i-Islami and Maulana Qasim of the JUI-F.

In the 2013 elections, the PTI-backed candidates had won five of the eight provincial and two of the three national assembly seats in the district, while the ANP had grabbed one National Assembly and two provincial assembly seats. One provincial assembly seat was claimed by an independent candidate.

This time around, the PTI has changed candidates in one national and three provincial assembly constituencies and fielded new faces in NA-21, PK-48, PK-51 and PK-52.

Except for PK-52, PK-53 and NA-21, the ANP, too, has named new candidates in rest of the constituencies.

In NA-20, a tough contest is expected among PPP’s Khawaja Hoti, PTI’s Mujahid Khan, MMA’s Dr Ata-u-Rehman, ANP’s Gul Nawaz Khan and PML-N’s Akhtar Nawaz.

Except for Gul Nawaz Khan and Akhtar Nawaz, the other three have already won elections there.

A close contest is expected between ANP’s Ameer Haider Hoti and PTI’s Atif Khan in NA-21, which also has MMA’s Maulana Shujaul Mulk and PPP’s Abid Ali Shah in the running.

Likewise, people consider MMA’s Maulana Mohammad Qasim, PTI’s Ali Mohammad Khan and PML-N’s Jamshed Khan Mohmand real contestants in NA-22, MMA-backed candidate Hafiz Akhtar Ali and ANP’s Farooq Akram Khan in PK-48, PTI’s Tufail Anjum, MMA’s Ibrahim Biland and independent candidate and industrialist Adnan Khan in PK-49, PPP’s Khawaja Hoti, PTI’s Atif Khan, MMA’s Tajul Amin Jabal and independent candidate and industrialist Azam Khan in PK-50, and ANP-backed Himayatullah Mayar, MMA’s Sirajul Haq and PTI’s Ameer Farzand Khan in PK-51.

Tough contest is also expected among PTI’s Zahir Shah Toru, ANP’s Ali Khan, MMA’s Amanat Shah and two cousins, including PPP’s Nawabzada Aurangzeb Khan and PML-N’s Nawabzada Arsala Khan Hoti, in PK-52 and ANP’s Ameer Haider Hoti, PTI’s Umar Farooq Kakakhel and PML-N’s Khan Akbar Afridi in PK-53.

Mr Hoti had won the seat twice first in the 2008 elections and then in 2013’s.

Three former MPAs, including PTI’s Iftikhar Ali Mashwani, MMA’s Mian Nadar Shah and ANP’s Sher Afghan Khan, are the major contenders for PK-54 seat, while PK-55 is likely to see a tough contest among PPP’s Rahim Dad Khan, MMA’s Fazal-i-Rabbani, PML-N’s Jamshed Mohmand and PTI’s Malik Shaukat Khan.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018



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