PESHAWAR: Fazal Mohammad Khan who defeated Asfandyar Wali Khan in the recent election has said that their native Charsadda has become the stronghold of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as it has won six of the seven assembly seats in the district.
“We won the two National Assembly seats and four of the five provincial assembly seats in Charsadda. We ended the monopoly of the Wali Khan and Sherpao families. Asfandyar Wali and his son and Aftab Sherpao and his son all lost to PTI candidates,” maintained the 45-year Fazal Mohammad Khan.
Arguing that winning from Charsadda is no joke, he said the district has been the hub of politics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and also in Pakistan. “Political loyalties are strong in Charsadda. In the 1970 general election, the Bhutto wave swept Pakistan and parts of our province, but Charsadda wasn’t affected. The MMA won from the province in 2002, but Charsadda voted differently. The PTI slogan of change affected almost all of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa except Charsadda in the 2013 election. This time Charsadda too has changed. It is now PTI territory,” he remarked.
Fazal Mohammad polled 83,495 votes to claim the National Assembly constituency, NA-24. He defeated the ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan, who got 59,483, by 24,012 votes. Maulana Mohammad Gohar Shah, the MMA candidate who had won the seat in 2013 by defeating both Fazal Mohammad and Asfandyar Wali, was placed third with 38,252 votes. PPP’s Aftab Alam with 10,462 votes and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s Mohammad Shafiq with 5,961 votes were in the fourth and fifth position.
According to Fazal Mohammad, he had won the contest in the 2013 general election also, but his mandate was stolen during the night after having led both Maulana Gohar Shah and Asfandyar Wali in the early vote count. “I ended up as the runner-up to Maulana Gohar Shah and ahead of Asfandyar Wali in 2013. In the 2018 election, I was 100 percent sure of victory and the margin of my victory proved me right,” he said.
Denying allegations of rigging in the recent election, Fazal Mohammad termed it the fairest polls largely because of the deployment of the army at the polling stations. “The army didn’t allow rigging. This made the difference between this and previous polls. There would have been no rigging and the PTI would have won if the army had been deployed in and outside the polling stations in the 2013 election,” he argued.
Fazal Mohammad’s family has a history of competing with the household of Abdul Wali Khan in Charsadda politics. His late father Nisar Mohammad Khan, who was associated for years with the PML and once with the PPP, represented the anti-ANP (earlier anti-NAP) forces in the district. He won his first assembly election in 1965 and was then elected MNA in the 1985 partyless polls. In 1996 Nisar Mohammad Khan was elected member of the Senate. He went to prison in the case of bomb explosion that took Hayat Mohammad Sherpao’s life. He later sided with Mohammad Khan Junejo during his tussle with Nawaz Sharif for control of the PML. After his retirement from politics, his sons started their political careers.
One of Nisar Mohammad Khan’s sons, Saeed Mohammad Khan defeated Sangeen Wali, the son of Abdul Wali Khan in the 2002 election for a provincial assembly seat. Another son Naseer Mohammad Khan was twice elected district nazim for Charsadda.
His youngest son Fazal Mohammad has achieved the biggest success among his brothers by decisively winning the National Assembly seat in his second attempt. He joined the PTI in 2009 and rose in the ranks, becoming the provincial organizer of the party.
Explaining the reason for joining the PTI in view of the fact that his family was mostly in one or the other faction of Muslim League, Fazal Mohammad said a visit to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore made a lasting impression on him and enhanced his admiration for Imran Khan. “We visited the hospital to enquire about the health of Sangeen Wali Khan who was under treatment there. He was on one bed in the room and I found out that the patient on the other bed was a very poor man. They were getting the same services even though one was rich and well-known and the other was resourceless. My respect for Imran Khan grew as he had built this quality hospital where patients irrespective of their status were getting the same treatment,” he recalled.
Fazal Mohammad, who received his early education at the Burnhall in Abbottabad, Fazlehaq College in Mardan and like his brothers also studied at the Lawrence College in Murree, contested and won his first election for nazim of the village union council after qualifying his BA. “Our union council and provincial and national assembly constituencies are the same as that of Asfandyar Wali’s family. We end up contesting against each other. Our politics is anti-ANP and pro-Pakistan and we often manage to defeat them,” he claimed.