LAKKI MARWAT: Former federal minister Salim Saifullah Khan, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s son Maulana Asjad Mehmood and PTI’s central vice-president Sher Afzal Marwat are making their last-ditch efforts to muster public support for winning the sole National Assembly seat here during the Thursday’s elections.

They have emerged as strong candidates out of a 39 hopefuls for NA-41.

Salim Saifullah is backed by Marwat Qaumi Ittehad (MQI), an electoral alliance formed by his family with support of other political parties and tribal chiefs to give a tough time to JUI-F candidates.

Mufti Abdul Ghani, a prominent religious scholar and a close aide of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman, is also supporting Salim Saifullah.

Salim Saifullah, Maulana Asjad and Sher Afzal battling it out for NA-41

Another strong tribal chief and head of Marwat Qaumi Jirga (MQJ) Haji Mohammad Aslam Khan has also parted ways with Fazlur Rehman and joined the electoral alliance.

The MQJ chief has strong vote bank in several union councils as his sons –Qudratullah Khan and Haji Hidayatullah – have remained district and tehsil nazims, respectively.

Being an administrator of Jamia Halimia seminary located in Darra Pezu, Mufti Ghani has strong influence in the entire district.

Saifullah brothers have also garnered support of a local PTI leader, Mohammad Saleem Khan popularly known as Saleem Khan Lala Multani.

Mr Saleem wanted to be the PTI nominee for PK-106, Lakki Marwat-II, but the party supported former MPA Malik Noor Saleem Khan.

Influential political families of Lakki city, including Meenakhel and Khoidadkhel, have also announced support to Saifullah brothers.

In the 2018 elections, Saifullah brothers were not in the election arena from their home district. But they had forged an alliance with PTI to pave way for the victory of candidates backed by them.

For NA-36 (now NA-41), they had supported PTI candidate and former district nazim Ishfaq Ahmad Khan Meenakhel, who lost to JUI-F’s Maulana Mohammad Anwar.

However, Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan, a relative of Saifullahs, had emerged as a returned candidate for the provincial assembly seat here and later joined the then chief minister Mahmood Khan’s cabinet as health and social welfare minister.

On the other side, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal has visited the district twice to address a workers’ convention, a graduation ceremony and a public meeting.

His election engagements proved helpful for his party’s hopefuls, including his son Maulana Asjad.

In 2002, 2013 and 2018 elections, Maulana Amanullah, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Mohammad Anwar had won the NA seat, respectively.

After winning the seat in 2013, Fazlur Rehman vacated it, but his brother, Maulana Attaur Rehman could not retain it in by-elections and lost to Colonel retired Amirullah Marwat of PTI, who had support of Saifullah brothers.

In 2008, Humayun Saifullah, a PML-Q nominee, remained victorious, defeating Pir Khalid Raza Zakori of JUI-F.

Though Maulana Asjad is being labelled as an imported candidate by his rivals, his party is a strong force in the southern district and the candidates affiliated with it have emerged winners in previous elections.

The party recently won the support of Malik Riaz Khan, ANP’s member provincial council, in Naurang town.

Malik Riaz is a close relative of JUI-F former MPA Anwar Hayat Khan and his family has a major vote bank in Naurang and other parts.

Though reasons behind his sudden separation from the nationalist party are not known, his support will definitely strengthen the muscles of JUI-F aspirants.

Despite facing hurdles from submission of nominations to allotment of election symbols and in the poll campaign as well, PTI is not ready to leave the space open for rivals.

PTI’s Sher Afzal Marwat is vying for the NA seat as an independent. He has been allotted the symbol of ‘flamingo’ after the party was deprived of its trademark cricket ‘bat’ symbol.

Being a firebrand leader of PTI, Sher Afzal is popular among youth. Before clinching the top slot in the party, he had been an ally of Saifullah brothers in local politics and their joint efforts were behind the formation of MQI.

His presence in the election arena will dent the votes of Salim Saifullah, thus benefiting Maulana Asjad.


To find your constituency and location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (no spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, visit the ECP website here for candidates.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2024

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