ABBOTTABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) received a major setback in NA-16 Abbottabad-II due to Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan's decision to withdraw his son Sardar Shehryar Khan from the race, sources said.
This sudden move by the PML-N stalwart and former chief minister and governor dented heavily the PML-N chances in other constituencies of Abbottabad. Sardar Mahtab was denied the party ticket from NA-15 Abbottabad-I. Instead, the former deputy speaker National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi got the ticket. To compensate Sardar Mahtab, his son Sardar Shehryar Khan was awarded PML-N ticket from NA-16.
Sources close to Sardar Mahtab said that he was angered over the PML-N decision not to award him ticket from the constituency he wanted to contest after his 30 years long association with the Sharif brothers and his loyalty to the party.
A recent meeting of family members and close political associates of Sardar Mahtab was held at his residence in Abbottabad to discuss the situation. Finally, he decided to withdraw candidature of his son Sardar Shehryar and return the party ticket given to his cousin Sardar Fareed from provincial assembly constituency PK-36.
Sardar Fareed, however, will contest the election from the constituency as an independent candidate. After this decision, PML-N has suffered a major blow in Abbottabad district and the beneficiary would be none other than PTI. The PTI has awarded ticket to Ali Khan Jadoon, son of veteran politician Amanullah Khan Jadoon who was a political rival of Sardar Mahtab.
Ali Khan Jadoon was district nazim Abbottabad before he resigned to contest election for the National Assembly. People were watching with interest a contest between scions - Ali Khan and Sardar Sherhyar - of two rival political families from Abbottabad as their fathers contested many elections against each other in the past and Sardar Mahtab always won. Despite repeated attempts on his mobile phone to seek his comment, Sardar Mahtab did not respond to the calls of this scribe.
Political observers say that Captain (R) Mohammad Safdar and his wife Maryam Nawaz played a major role in awarding the party ticket to Murtaza Javed Abbasi from NA-15. Differences between Sardar Mahtab and Murtaza Javed Abbasi started developing as early as 2014 and peaked during provincial elections of PML-N's office-bearers in April last year.
It is believed that Sardar Mahtab and his group could oppose Murtaza Javed Abbasi in NA-15 and lend support to PTI's Sardar Yaqoob, another ex-deputy speaker of National Assembly. The political observers believe that after withdrawing the candidature of his son, Sardar Mahtab may support PTI dissident Sardar Sher Bahadur from NA-16. Sher Bahadur is a former district nazim who was de-seated by Supreme Court for violating party discipline. He is believed to be enjoying cordial relations with Sardar Mahtab.
Sardar Mahtab started his political career in the 1985 non-party elections and became MPA. Since then he has won all but one election he contested for MPA or MNA from Abbottabad. During the last general election, he lost to PTI's Dr Azhar Jadoon. Sardar Mahtab has remained federal minister, chief minister, governor and most recently adviser to PM on aviation.
However, during the last several years, he lost his contact with local people and politics, which is considered a prerequisite in contemporary politics at the level of constituencies. He seldom visited Abbottabad, once considered as his stronghold, while his rival Jadoon family stayed connected with local politics.
Many political observers are of the view that the era of Sardar Mahtab's political glory has ended in Abbottabad but being a smart politician he has all the credentials and ability to bounce back by re-launching his two sons, Sardar Shehryar and Sardar Shamoon Yar in future.
The political future of his family cannot be written off easily, though for the time being he seems to be at the receiving end by none other than his own political mentors with whom he remained loyal through thick and thin.