CHITRAL: The candidates for the lone national and provincial assembly seats in the area-wise largest district of the province are trying hard to reach out to voters as the July 25 general election draws nearer.
As many as 11 candidates are in the run for the National Assembly constituency NA-1, old NA-32 while 16 aspirants are trying their luck for the provincial assembly constituency PK-1. Chitral lost one provincial assembly seat in the wake of the 2017 population census and the subsequent delimitation of constituencies.
Former lawmaker Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali is contesting the election for the renumbered NA-1 on the ticket of the recently revived Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). Abdul Latif is the candidate of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Dr Muhammad Amjad is contesting the election from the platform of All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and Maulana Syed Hidayatur Rehman is fielded by the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party for the election.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) dissident worker Shahzada Taimur Khisrow is also contesting the election for national assembly seat in independent capacity. The PPP has issued the party ticket to former Member Provincial Assembly Saleem Khan, Shahzada Iftikharuddin is the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Eidul Hassan is contesting the election on the ticket of the Awami National Party (ANP) from the constituency.
Maulana Hidayatur Rehman is contesting the election for the renumbered PK-1 constituency on the ticket of the MMA, Israruddin is the PTI’s candidate, Sohrab Khan is contesting the election from the platform of APML, Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party has fielded Maulana Sirajuddin for the elections, PPP’s former MPA Ghulam Muhammad, Abdul Wali of the PML-N, Dr Sardar Ahmad of ANP, Attaullah of Pakistan Sarzameen Party and seven independent candidates are also in the run.
The area-based politics instead of party-based politics seems to be dominating the election process this time as people of various areas are supporting the candidates contesting the election from their neighbourhood in the district.
The dissident PPP worker Shahzada Taimur belongs to Garam Chashma and he could affect the vote-bank of PPP candidate Saleem Khan and Shahzada Iftikhar of PML-N.
“The PML-N completed several mega projects in the district including Lowari Tunnel and Golen Gol hydropower projects and its candidate Shahzada Iftikharuddin has earned respect for himself due to his hard work,” said a political analyst.
He said the popularity graph of PTI had also increased in the district despite poor performance of the provincial government. The analyst added the revival of the MMA and fielding of strong candidate had made it tough to predict the outcome of the election. As for the provincial assembly, PTI’s Israruddin can affect the votes of MMA candidate.
The PML-N candidate for PK-1 Abdul Wali has own personal vote-bank in the constituency as well. It was believed that the real contest on the PK-1 was between the PPP and MMA candidates but the APML managed to reorganise the party. However, it remains to be seen which party would win the election as no candidate has a clear edge over the others.