BISHAM: The re-polling in the provincial assembly constituency PK-23 Shangla-1 took an interesting turn Sunday as the Awami National Party (ANP)'s local leadership rebelled against the party decision and announced support to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Shaukat Ali Yousafzai.
The Election Commission of Pakistan had declared the results in the constituency null and void as less than 10 percent women had exercised the right to vote in the July 25 general election.
Shaukat Yousafzai, a former PTI minister and member provincial assembly (MPA), had emerged victorious from the constituency defeating Mohammad Rishad of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The re-polling will be held on September 10 in parts of Shangla district, which has two provincial assembly and one National Assembly seats. The second provincial assembly seat was won by ANP's Faisal Zeb.
The lone National Assembly seat was won by PML-N's Dr Ibadullah, younger brother of the party's provincial President Amir Muqam. A tough contest is expected between Shaukat Yousafzai and PML-N's Muhammad Rishad Khan, who is also a former MPA from the constituency.
The central leadership of the ANP had entered into an electoral alliance with the PML-N and had directed its Shangla chapter to support Mohammad Rishad Khan. But the situation took a dramatic turn on Sunday when the ANP District President Said Fareen Khan addressed a joint press conference at Alpuri with the PTI candidate Shaukat Yousafzai and announced support to him in the by-election.
His plea was that the PML-N had done nothing in terms of development for Shangla and therefore the ANP voters cannot vote for its candidate. Besides, he pointed out that the PTI was in power in the province and Centre and could provide development funds to Shangla.
Said Fareen also announced to quit as the district president of the ANP. This came as a shock to the ANP's top leadership as it considers the PTI as its major rival in provincial politics and would in no way agree to support its candidate in an election. The rebellion by the Shangla unit of ANP could cause a split in the party at the local level. Said Fareen Khan is an influential Shangla politician and his sons and nephews have been contesting elections from the district and getting significant number of votes.
In another development, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) extended support to the PML-N candidate. Maulana Shujaul Mulk of the MMA and the PML-N Member National Assembly Dr Ibadullah made the announcement at another press conference at Alpuri, the administrative headquarters of Shangla district.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that ANP secretary general Mian Iftikhar Hussain and provincial general secretary Sardar Hussain Babak, MPA, would reach Alpuri today to meet the local ANP members and try to persuade them not to support the PTI candidate in the by-election. They are likely to unveil the ANP's line of action on the issue of re-polling.