ABBOTTABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is facing difficulties in the two national and four provincial assembly seats of Abbottabad district due to intra-party rifts. As many as 31 candidates are contesting for two national assembly seats of the district.
The sudden decision of former Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan not to let his family members contest election surprised many. Political observers say that the decision points to rifts in the party. Others see the decision to be a direction from the so-called establishment.
For NA-15 Abbottabad, the PTI awarded ticket to Ali Asghar Khan, son of late Air Marshal Asghar Khan, although he had applied for NA-16 where he has been residing and working for a long time.
Former deputy speaker National Assembly Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob, who applied for PTI ticket but couldn’t get one, is contesting as an independent candidate. His presence in the field would divide the PTI votes.
The PML-N awarded ticket to former deputy speaker National Assembly and provincial general secretary of the party Murtaza Javed Abbasi. He was preferred over Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan who had also applied from NA-15.
Other contenders include Ayaz Khan Jadoon of Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party, Sameen Riaz Abbasi of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party, Sardar Muhammad Iqbal Khan of Qaumi Watan Party, Sardar Manzoor Mumtaz Abbasi of Pakistan People’s Party, Fazalur Rehman of MMA, Arif Hussain Kazmi of Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan, Nusrat Anjum of Pak Sarzameen Party and independent candidates Muhammad Asghar Shah, Sardar Gohar Zaman and Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob.
Although Murtaza Javed Abbasi has been facing tough time in some of the villages in NA-15 as the voters expected more from him after voting for him in 2013, the division in PTI will benefit him.
As many as 18 candidates are contesting on NA-16 Abbottabad-2, including former district nazim Ali Khan Jadoon on the PTI ticket. He is younger son of former federal minister Amanullah Khan Jadoon. He has got an edge in the constituency after withdrawal of Sardar Mehtab as his father had also served as MNA from this constituency and had built alliances.
The PML-N belatedly awarded its ticket to party worker Mohabat Awan. Others in the field include Muhammad Saeed Khan of MMA, Muhammad Waqas of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Muhammad Irshad of ANP, Jamil Hussain of QWP and Ayaz Khan Jadoon of Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party.
Bilal Siddique, Rizwan Khan, Javed Khan, Sardar Maqsood Ayub, Saeed Khalid, Faisal Hussain Shah Gillani, Muhammad Asghar Shah, Muhammad Rashid, Muhammad Rohail, Murad Sher and former district naib nazim Shaukat Tanoli are contesting as independent candidates.
Shaukat Tanoli, who was affiliated with the PTI, opted to run as an independent candidate after being refused the party ticket. His candidature will affect the PTI votes. Political observers consider PML-N nominee as strong following the arrest of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz.
The PTI seems to be in a weak position in all the four provincial assembly constituencies of Abbottabad. The reason is that PTI tickets were given to former provincial ministers who had failed to deliver in their areas. Besides, the rift in the party is taking its toll as well.
There are 17 contestants in the PK-36 constituency. They include nominees of all major political parties except PML-N, and 10 independents.
Former MPA from the constituency Sardar Muhammad Fareed, brother of Sardar Mehtab, refused to contest election on PML-N ticket at the eleventh hour and is now contesting as independent candidate. PML-N did not award ticket to anyone and decided to support him. This was a gesture to placate Sardar Mahtab, who in the past served as provincial and federal minister and also as governor and chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, due to the denial of ticket to him for NA-15.
PTI has awarded its ticket to Nazeer Abbasi, nazim union council Bakote. The PTI activists who had applied for the party ticket and couldn’t get it have also filed their nomination papers as independents. Among them is Rajab Ali Khan Abbasi. Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan awarded its ticket to Zulfiqar Abbasi, Rashid Yaqoob is contesting on Tehreek-e-Suba Hazara ticket, Rubina Zahid has been fielded by ANP, Sajid Qureshi by MMA, Manzoor Mumtaz Abbasi by PPP, and Abdullah by Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party. The independents in the contest include Abdur Rehman Abbasi, Kamran Abbasi, Anwar Abbasi, Fazal-e-Hadi, Iftikhar Abbasi, Imran Khan, Shabbir Ahmed, Naseer Hussain Shah, Iftikhar Ahmed, Rajab Ali Khan Abbasi and Sardar Fareed Ahmed Khan. Sardar Fareed seems to be in a better position due to his family’s hold in the area as well as experience of contesting elections.
In PK-37, the PTI has awarded ticket to former district naib nazim Waqar Nabi. It took action against its former MPA Sardar Mohammad Idrees for his alleged involvement in horse-trading in the Senate elections and not only denied him the ticket but also expelled him from the party. Sardar Idrees is now contesting as independent candidate, posing a threat to the PTI candidate. PML-N has again awarded ticket to former MPA Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha.
In PK-37, the 18 candidates are in the field include 10 independents. Those contesting on the party ticket include Sardar Aurangezeb Nalotha (PML-N), Sardar Waqar Nabi (PTI), Rabia Gul (QWP), Rukhsana Bibi (ANP), Sajjad Ahmed Khan (Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek), Nasir Hussain (PPP) and Abdur Razzaque Abbasi (MMA).
PML-N candidate Mohammad Arshad and former provincial minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi from PTI are involved in a tough battle in PK- 38 where as many as 19 candidates are contesting election. Mohammad Arshad seems to be in a better position in most of the areas. Saleem Shah of PPP (SB) and Sikandar Azam, an independent candidate, are also attracting some voters.
The independent candidates in PK-38 include Waqas Ahmed, Waheed Akhtar, Naseer Ahmed Khan, Nadeem Ahmed, Malik Naveed Sarwar, Malik Shehzad Mehmood, Nabeel Abbasi, Mohammad Bashir, Aqeel-ur-Rehman, Arshad Wadood Khan, Sajjad Ahmed and Sikandar Azam. The party candidates are Bibi Shehnaz Raja (ANP), Ziad Bin Yousaf (QWP), Shazia Tehmas Khan (PPP), Saleem Shah (PPP-SB), Qalandar Lodhi (PTI) and Mohammad Arshad (PML-N).
In PK-39, former MPA Inayatullah Khan Jadoon of PML-N seems to have an edge over the 15 candidates as the party’s main opponent, PTI, is suffering from divisions in its ranks. PTI has awarded its ticket to former provincial minister Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani despite strong opposition by the party workers for his track record of switching political parties.
Asif Zubair Sheikh, former divisional president PTI, is contesting against the party decision as independent. Syed Faisal Shah, another PTI dissident and an elected member in the Cantonment Board Abbottabad, is also contesting as an independent. Zulfiqar Ali, another PTI member in the Cantonment Board, is contesting on the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) ticket. Mohammad Safdar, another activist of PTI also rebelled against the party decision of awarding ticket to Mushtaq Ghani and is contesting as an independent.
Asif Zubair and Mohammad Safdar will get votes from many PTI members and pose problems for Mushtaq Ghani.
Umair Anwar, brother-in-law of Mushtaq Ghani, is also opposing him and contesting against him on the ticket of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek. A total of 781 polling stations have been established in the two National Assembly constituencies NA-15 Abbottabad-1 and NA-16 Abbottabad-2 where almost 26 candidates are in the run.
There will be 1,216 polling booths in NA-15 and 894 in NA-16. The total numbers of registered voters are 478,336 in NA-15 and 360,390 in NA-16.