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MMA takes convincing lead in Frontier PA

October 11, 2002

PESHAWAR, Oct 10: In a surprising landslide victory, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal won an convincing majority by securing 48 seats in the 99-seat NWFP Assembly on Thursday.

While reports were pouring in from different constituencies till the filing of this report, amid reports of recounting in certain seats, the overall picture that emerged according to unofficial results gave the MMA a clear-cut majority to form a government on its own in the NWFP Assembly. It, however, appears that the MMA would be able to increase a few more seats to its tally in the NWFP.

The MMA has said it would soon meet in Peshawar to chalk out its strategy regarding formation of government in the NWFP. MMA leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad told reporters in Peshawar the alliance was capable of forming a government on its own in the NWFP and would not to enter into a coalition with any other group or party. “We can do it ourselves,” he said.

“This is a revolution,” a triumphant MMA leader Qazi Hussain told a gathering at Markaz-I-Islami in Peshawar amid vociferous slogans of Allah-o-Akbar (Allah is Great).

“We will restrain ourselves from confrontation. But we will not allow American bases on our land, nor will we let American system or Western culture,” he said.

What appears to be an unbelievably stunning victory for the religious conglomeration, the MMA in its triumphant stride almost wiped out the ANP, the PPP and the PML (N).

This is the first time that an alliance comprising religious parties will form a government on its own in the NWFP. The only other time when a religious party ruled in the NWFP was in 1970 when Maulana Mufti Mahmud, father of the present JUI (F) leader, was the chief minister, heading a coalition government with the National Awami Party (NAP).

Results available so far give the ANP and the PPP five seats each. The PML (Q) appears to get 10 seats while the independents looked all set to get seven seats. The PML (N) has finished with a dismal three-seat tally, getting two seats in Lakki Marwat, which is the home-district of the PML (Q) provincial leadership. The fate of the PML (Q) provincial president, Salim Saifullah, remained unknown amidst conflicting reports.

Out of 11 seats in the Peshawar district where the ANP and the PPP had entered into seat adjustment with each other, the PPP could get only one seat, while the ANP’s Bashir Bilour won by a very narrow margin to get through to the NWFP Assembly. Eight seats were won over by the MMA while one seat has gone to an independent, also a religious activist of a banned sectarian outfit.

The ANP faces stunning defeats in Nowshera, Sawabi and Charsadda districts. In Charsadda, Sangeen Wali Khan lost to a PML (Q) candidate. PPP (S) leader and former chief minister Aftab Sherpao and his son Sikandar Sherpao won their respective seats.

Surprisingly enough, the PPP (S) has bagged more seats in the NWFP Assembly than its rival mainstream PPP.

In Mardan, where the ANP and the PPP had entered into seat adjustment, seven seats were won by the MMA while PPP’s Abdul Akbar was the only candidate to make to the Provincial Assembly from a district previously known to be a mini-Larkana. Mardan is the home district of the PPP provincial president, Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti. The PPP leader’s son, Omar Farooq who was contesting from two provincial seats lost both his seats.

The MMA repeated its feat in the Malakand division by winning in Dir, Swat and Chitral. It also won seats in Bannu and Battagram. The PML (Q) won its most seats in the Hazara division, which includes Abbottabad, Mansehra and Haripur.

The PML (N) provincial president and former chief minister, Sahibzada Pir Sabir Shah, lost to his rival PML (Q) Faisal Zaman in Haripur. This is the first time the PML (N) leader has lost from his home constituency, which he has been winning since 1985.