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TAXILA: PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s entry into Taxila and Wah’s electioneering area could prove a game changer in local politics, where the ‘bat’ symbol appears to be in the dominant position to gain the constituency’s single national and two provincial assembly seats.

Although former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s ‘jeep’ appeared to be leading the race, and has won support from religious groups, influential pressure groups and independent candidate Faisal Iqbal – who announced his support after a seat adjustment agreement with Chaudhry Nisar – Saturday’s show of power organised by PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Chaudhry Nisar’s arch rival, may shift the balance back in the PTI’s favour.

Mr Khan has drummed up support for the party, leading it ahead of the jeep, lion, book, arrow and crane to retain the constituency’s national and provincial assembly seats, which were swept by PTI candidate Sadeeq Khan, a first-time provincial candidate who beat Chaudhry Nisar.

Said Siddiqui, a political observer, said the youth factor would play a dominant role in this election, particularly first time voters infatuated with the PTI regardless of the ground realities or the fact that their local candidates were known for shifting loyalties in their political career.

“Angered educated youth in fury with the former ruling party would also vote for the PTI as the PML-N after coming to power put a ban on employment on government jobs, rendering millions of educated youth, including professionals such as engineers, jobless,” said Dr Syed Sabir Ali, another political observer. He added that the unemployed youth vote would cost the ‘jeep’ heavily, as well as the PML-N.

Silent voters who want to rid the country of corruption, nepotism, family politics and poor governance also seem to be in favour of the PTI, he added.

Although Mr Khan’s failure to discuss local politics or announce plans for the area’s future, and his failure to criticise his candidate Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s arch-rival Chaudhry Nisar, has upset the party’s local leadership, the PTI has succeeded in organising its first successful show of power in the area in this election season, putting the party’s in a strong position to regain the area onJuly 25.

Published in Dawn, July 17th , 2018