Bannu likely to see close contests for one NA, four PA seats

Published February 8, 2024
Former NA deputy speaker Zahid Akram Durrani of JUI-F (L) and PTI-backed independent Maulana Syed Naseem Ali Shah (R). — Facebook/File
Former NA deputy speaker Zahid Akram Durrani of JUI-F (L) and PTI-backed independent Maulana Syed Naseem Ali Shah (R). — Facebook/File

LAKKI MARWAT: Close contests are likely among several heavyweights on the sole national and four provincial assembly seats in Bannu district.

Former National Assembly deputy speaker Zahid Akram Durrani of JUI-F, Syed Qaisar Abbas Shah of PTI-P and PTI-backed independent Maulana Syed Naseem Ali Shah have emerged as strong candidates for NA-39.

Mr Zahid is the son of former chief minister Mohammad Akram Khan Durrani.

Former prime minister and PTI founder Imran Khan had won the NA seat in the 2018 elections, defeating Akram Durrani.

Later, Imran vacated the seat and thus paved the way for Zahid Durrani to grab it in by-polls, defeating PTI’s Maulana Naseem Ali.

Mr Zahid has run a vigorous campaign in a bid to retain the seat on Thursday (today).

Bannu district is considered a stronghold of JUI-F, thus giving an edge to Zahid Durrani over his rivals. He will face his archrival and PTI-sponsored Naseem Ali Shah, who is in the arena as an independent as the election commission deprived his party of its iconic ‘bat’ symbol.

His father, Maulana Naseeb Ali Shah, had affiliations with JUI-F, and he had won the then NA-26 as a candidate of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal in 2002.

He remained an MNA until his death in 2007.

The Durrani family got prominence in local politics when Akram Durrani became chief minister.

After Durrani’s hold over electoral politics, Naseem Ali Shah, son of Maulana Naseeb Ali, developed differences with the party leadership and separated from them.

Later, he joined PTI and contested by-elections for the national assembly, but lost to Zahid Durrani. On the basis of strong position of PTI, he is set to give a tough time to Durrani family this time.

Syed Qaisar Abbas of PTI-P and Jamaat-i-Islami former senator and provincial chief Mohammad Ibrahim are also in the race for NA-39.

Qaisar Abbas is the son of former senator Pir Syed Abbas and his family has a strong hold in area politics. He has also gathered support of several influential families and consolidated his position.

Meanwhile, former provincial minister Sher Azam Wazir of JUI-F, Halimzada Wazir of PTI-P, Noorani Wazir of Awami National Party and PTI leader Zahidullah are in the run for PK-99, Bannu-I.

Sher Azam has won the seat twice as a PPP nominee, and his son, Fakhr Azam also remained an MPA from the constituency. He recently joined JUI-F, and is among the strong aspirants.

A dissident JUI-F activist, Maulana Ahmadullah Haqqani is also flexing his muscles to grab the seat.

Also, an interesting contest will take place for PK-100, Bannu-II, where former chief minister Akram Durrani and former PTI MPA Malik Pakhtunyar have emerged as strong candidates.

JI’s Akhtar Ali Shah and ANP’s Asghar Nawaz are also in the field.

The former chief minister is also trying his luck in PK-102, Bannu-IV.

Other strong candidates in the field include Malik Adnan Khan of PTI and Malik Farzand Ali Khan.

Maklik Adnan is the nephew of former MNA Malik Nasir Khan.

The PK-101, Bannu-III, is also among the important constituencies, where former provincial minister and PTI leader Malik Shah Mohammad Khan will face Malik Adnan Khan Wazir of JUI-F.

The former minister had won the seat in the previous two elections, and now he is making all-out efforts to retain it.

Pir Wajid Ali Shah, an independent, has also emerged as a strong contender for the seat.

To take away the seat from PTI’s Malik Shah Mohammad will be a hard nut to crack for JUI-F hopeful Malik Adnan Wazir.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2024

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