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HARIPUR: As the July 25 draws nearer, electioneering has become a hectic job for the candidates who are interested in maximising their support of social grouping (janbas) in the district.

But the ‘marriage of convenience’ between the families of PTI deputy general secretary Dr Raja Amir Zaman and PML-N’s candidate Babar Nawaz Khan, who used to be rivals a month ago, has made the election for NA-17, Haripur, more interesting.

The Tareens and Rajgan families occupying centre stage of the district’s politics for over six decades are not directly contesting election for this only National Assembly seat of the district.

Rivals Dr Raja Amir of PTI, Babar Nawaz of PML-N join hands ahead of polls

In the 1985 elections, Gohar Ayub Khan defeated Raja Sikandar Zaman, while Raja Sikandar Zaman’s son Dr Raja Amir Zaman defeated Gohar Ayub’s son Omar Ayub Khan in the nazim elections in 2001.

In the 2002 elections, Dr Amir supported Pir Sabir Shah of PML-N against Omar Ayub but the former lost.

In 2008, they contested election from the constituency but both Omar and Dr Amir lost to PML-N’s Sardar Mushtaq, while the 2013 elections brought triumph for PTI nominee Dr Amir Zaman against both Omar Ayub, the then PML-N nominee, and independent candidate Sardar Mushtaq.

However a year long court battle helped Omar Ayub win during the re-polling in seven polling stations. Dr Amir moved the Supreme Court, which ordered by-election in the constituency in June 2015.

PML-N candidate Babar Nawaz won a big margin due to support of divided Tareens.

Interestingly, that time around, Omar’s first cousin, Yousuf Ayub, was aiding Raja Amir from the PTI’s platform but Omar Ayub was in the camp of Babar Nawaz. However, political situation changed altogether when the PTI accepted Omar Ayub in its folds a couple of months ahead of the launch of the current electioneering and allotted him ticket ignoring longtime affiliate Raja Amir.

Annoyed with the decision, Raja Amir, who didn’t quit party, openly announced his support for PML-N’s candidate Babar Nawaz against his own party’s nominee, Omar Ayub.

The PTI initially denied allotting more than one tickets to a family but later nominated three descendants of Ayub family, who include Omar Ayub in NA-17, his first cousin Akbar Ayub in PK-40 and Akbar’s real brother Arshad Ayub in PK-41, and thus, further dividing the house of PTI in Haripur, especially the reneging by Raja Amir, who had bagged 71,254 votes during election 2008 and 116,579 during 2013, being considered as big loss to the PTI.

A look at the political situation of NA-17 suggests that although both candidates claim to be ahead of each other, it is clear that first the PTI is a divided house and second Raja Amir joining the group of Babar Nawaz has made the election tough for both sides.

PK-40 will also witness a tough contest between PTI’s Akbar Ayub and Qazi Asad Khan of PML-N. In PK-41, Raja Faisal Zaman of the PML-N is facing independent candidate Sardar Mushtaq Khan, while Arshad Ayub of the PTI is the new entrant to the constituency’s electoral politics.

In PK-42, former PTI MPA Faisal Zaman Jahazonwala and former QWP MPA Gohar Nawaz are contesting as independents. PML-N candidate Syed Qasim Shah is also in the running in the constituency.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018