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Tough contest seen on Mansehra seats

September 19, 2002

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MANSEHRA, Sept 18: There will be a neck-and-neck contest between the Muttahedda Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) candidate, Syed Ghulam Nabi Shah and the PML (QA) candidate, Sardar Shahjehan Yousaf, on NA-20, Mansehra-I.

Similarly, there will be a tough fight between the PML (QA) candidate Mohammad Tariq Khan Swati and the independent candidate and former Nazim of union council Mansehra city No 1, Shujah Salim Khan for PF-53, Mansehra-I.

At present, there are three potential candidates contesting on NA-20 seat. Besides Syed Ghulam Nabi Shah and Sardar Shajehan Yousaf, the third potential candidate for NA-20 is Salahuddin Tirmizi of Kaghan. Mr Tirmizi has got support of the District Nazim, Mohammad Azam Khan Swati. Being a newcomer in politics, it will be an uphill task for him on NA-20. Sardar Shahjehan is the son of the PML (QA) stalwart, Sardar Mohammad Yousaf, who has been winning election on NA-20 since 1990. This time, Sardar Yousaf fell prey to graduation condition and fielded his son, Sardar Shahjehan for the seat of NA-20.

Sardar Yousaf, who belongs to the Gujjar tribe, has a majority vote bank of his tribe in almost all the areas of not only NA-20, but he has also got a sizable following in NA-21, Mansehra-II and NA-23, Batgram. The support of Sardar Mohammad Yousaf has been playing a vital role in deciding the fate of the provincial assembly segments in the past, specially, on PF-53, PF-54, PF-55 and PF-56. The Gujjar tribe factor will again play an important role in the forthcoming election on NA-20 and on all the provincial assembly seats of the district. But on NA-20, Sardar Shahjehan son of Sardar Yousaf will be given tough time by the MMA candidate Syed Ghulam Nabi Shah.

Gujjar tribe has been supporting Sardar Yousaf since 1990 on NA-20 but this time it appears that cracks have appeared in their unity. Some of them have fielded Sardar Viqarul Mulk on NA-20, who has got the ticket of the PPP (Parliamentarian). Sardar Viqarul Mulk, an advocate by profession, is the son of Sardar Abdur Rehman Gujjar, a veteran Gujjar leader who has been advocating the cause of Gujjar tribe since early 1970s. He also contested the election for NA-20 in 1970 but was defeated by the JUI stalwart (late) Maulana Ghulam Ghous Hazarvi. There is a common belief here that Gujjar tribe always votes for a Gujjar candidate.

In Mansehra town and almost all the major towns of Kaghan, Pakhal, Bhogharmang and Konsh valleys, the voters, specially the urban and educated voters have inclination towards Syed Ghulam Nabi Shah. The workers of the religious parties are also working for Ghulam Nabi Shah. They opine that the elected representatives of the past and the Nazimeen have played no role for solving the people’s problems and instead remained busy in feathering their own nests.

This time people have thought that the problems should be the basis for voting in favour of a candidate who could help resolve their issues.

The District Nazim of Mansehra, Mohammad Azam Khan Swati, former District Naib Nazim and a candidate for PF-55 Shahzada Mohammad Gustasap Khan besides the Syeds of Kaghan, i.e., the families of ex-senators Syed Qasim Shah and Syed Muzamil Shah are supporting Salahuddin Tirmizi. But as a newcomer in politics, he will be finding a difficult task.

For the most crucial provincial assembly constituency of the district, PF-53, Mansehra-I, there will be a tough fight between the PML (QA) candidate Mohammad Tariq Khan Swati and Shujah Salim Khan, a cousin of Shahzada Gustasap Khan. In this constituency a young candidate belonging to Gujjar tribe, Sardar Zahoor Ahmad, is also striving hard. On the other hand the PML (QA) stalwart Sardar Mohammad Yousaf has been also caught in an difficult situation. If he openly supports the PML (QA) candidate Mohammad Tariq Khan Swati, he will earn the wrath of Gujjar tribe and his son will lose the majority votes of his tribe. If Sardar Yousaf supports Sardar Zahoor Ahmad, he would be made accountable by the PML (QA) leadership. A spokesman of Sardar Yousaf, however, said that Sardar Yousaf would stay firm to his commitment with the PML (QA) candidates.

For PF-53, the MMA candidate, Dr Tariq Sherazi of the Jamaat-I-Islami (JI), is also contesting but despite being an MMA candidate, he will face hard to make way. The Ulema belonging to both factions of the JUI, have resentment against the JI and its candidates which they express openly in public gatherings. At a press conference of the JUI (F) leader ex-senator Hafiz Hussain Ahmed in Maderssa-i-Imdadia Mansehra last month, most of the Ulema opposed the fielding of JI candidates on MMA ticket and said they would prefer staying away from the polling stations instead of voting in favour of the JI candidates.