PESHAWAR, Feb 19: Elections for five national and 15 provincial assembly seats in three districts of the Hazara region -- Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra -- were held amid pitched battles and minor scuffles among supporters of different candidates in various parts of the region, which has traditionally been a bastion of pro-establishment forces.
Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan of the PML-N won the NA-17 seat (Abbottabad-I), defeating former minister of petroleum Amanullah Khan Jadoon of the PML-Q with a margin of over 17,000 votes. Murtaza Javed Abbasi of the PML (N) won the NA-18 seat (Abbottabad-II). He defeated former National Assembly deputy speaker Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob with a margin of over 23,000 votes. PML-N’s Sardar Mohammad Mushtaq Khan won the NA-19 constituency (Haripur). He defeated former district nazim Raja Amir Zaman and former finance minister Omar Ayub Khan. Sardar Shajehan Yousaf of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q won the NA-20 seat (Mansehra-I) by getting 72,299 votes. His rival Gen (retired) Salahuddin polled 72,161 votes. PML-N’s Faiz Mohammad Khan was elected from the NA-21 constituency (Mansehra-II) with 47,901 votes. His rival Zar Gul Khan of the PML-Q received 23,300 votes.
The voters’ turnout in urban parts of the region remained low till midday but it increased in the afternoon.
In rural parts of the districts where the turnout was very high, it was a clash of egos between among tribes and clans. It was an appropriate time for them to settle their scores under the banners of their candidates.
Abbottabad, which has a literacy rate of 56.16 per cent, has bestowed political mandate upon the PML-N. Nawaz Sharif himself had won the NA-18 seat in the past. In the 2002 election, voters’ turnout in NA-17 and NA-18 had remained 39.62 per cent and 36.23 per cent, respectively.
The Haripur NA seat was won by Sardar Mohammad Mushtaq of the PML-N with a big margin. He defeated Dr Raja Amir Zaman, an independent candidate and a scion of Khanpur’s Rajas, and former finance minister Omar Ayub Khan. Mr Omar Ayub had run a well-organised election campaign but he failed to win the seat. On Feb 15, Mr Sharif had visited Haripur and addressed a big public meeting.
Raja Shiraza Haider, a PML-N nominee for the PF-49 seat, accused his rival Raja Faisal Zaman of harassing voters in the Nikra Bangla polling station in Khanpur. Mr Aurangzeb, a supporter of Mr Haider, alleged that the election staff was involved in fake vote casting in the polling station. Mr Haider also alleged that Mr Zaman’s supporters had fired on his voters.
In the Sathan Gali polling station, a suburban locality of Mansehra, supporters of Sardar Shajehan Yousaf, a candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q for the NA-20 seat, and Sardar Waqarul Mulk, an independent candidate for the PF-56 seat (Mansehra-IV), clashed with each other. Two supporters of Mr Mulk were killed in the armed clash.
Sardar Mohammad Yousaf, sitting nazim of Mansehra and a central leader of the PML-Q, had made ripples in the district’s politics when he defeated traditional politicians in 1985 and onwards. He mobilised his clan, comprising herdsmen and tenants, which had been a victim of economic exploitation by local landlords, across the district. His son Shajehan Yousaf contested against Gen (retired) Slahuddin Tirmizi of the PML-N for NA-20.
Mr Mulk is also from the same clan, but he is opposed to Sardar Mohammad Yousaf.