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May 7, 2013

Intra-party rifts over tickets, past performance hitting PPP hard in Lower Dir

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May 7, 2013

TIMERGARA: Intra-party rifts over awarding tickets and dismal performance during the last five years is hitting the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) hard in Lower Dir where it has been involved in direct contest with Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in the past.
Though PPP and JI have solid vote-bank in the district as the nominees of both the parties have won seats in the past, the Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) have improved their standing in Lower Dir. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is also emerging as a new political force in the area like other parts of the country.
On the district’s lone National Assembly constituency NA-34, former minister of state for inter-provincial coordination Malik Azmat is contesting on the PPP ticket, former district nazim Sahibzada Yaqoob is JI candidate, JUI-F has fielded Maulana Fazlullah and Bashir Khan is the PTI nominee. Farid Khan of PML-N, Azam Khan of ANP and Muhammad Umar of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) are the other candidates.
Following delimitation and creation of the new constituency, the then JI chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad (late) won the seat in the 2002 general election and the party’s nominee Abdul Ghafoor Ghawas retained the seat in bye-polls when Qazi later vacated it. In the 2008 polls Malik Azmat of PPP emerged victorious as JI boycotted the election.
This time the contest would not be a two-way, PPP-JI fight as the JUI-F and PTI have entered the fray with lot of hopes. Though the JI vote bank is intact to an extent, the PPP has lost some diehard supporters like former nazim Noorkhel of the union council in Talash and Ibrahim who joined the ANP along with his supporters.
Also, Malik Fateh Rahim’s brother Malik Inam is the PTI nominee from PK-94 and it would be impossible for his family to continue supporting the PPP against its own scion. On the other hand the JUI-F has reportedly struck a deal with ANP on PK-95 and with PPP on PK-94 where the religious party would be

supported on the National Assembly seat in return for its support in the provincial assembly constituencies.
The deal shows that PPP and ANP were more interested in securing the provincial assembly seats instead of the National Assembly where the JI position seems stronger. In PK-94 the main contest is between former minister Mahmood Zeb Khan of PPP and Muzaffar Said of the JI. ANP’s Ayub Khan, JUI-F’s Qazi Ayazuddin and Qaumi Watan Party’s Arshad Khan are also in the run.
The ANP has improved its vote bank in the constituency and unlike the past, the nationalist party can change the scenario. Rashid Advocate, a PTI leader and former Muslim Leaguer and Malik Dilawar, the uncle of Malik Sher Bahadur of JI also joined ANP, making the party position stable to some extent. In PK-96 Zamin Khan of the PPP, Said Gul of JI, ANP’s Naeem Jan, PTI’s Khan Sherin and JUI-F’s Shakirullah are in the field. However the real contest is between PPP and JI. The dismal performance of PPP government and intra-party rift can prove damaging for the party despite the fact its nominee has popular support. The JI is confident of winning the seat though Zamin Khan is sparing no efforts to retain it. It was won by JI in the 2002 and PPP in the 2008 general election.
In PK-95 tough contest is expected between Sirajul Haq of the JI and ANP’s Hidayatullah. Both the parties have solid votes in the constituency and claims and counter claims of victory are being made by the two arch rivals.
In PK-97 Lower Dir, former MPA Dr Zakirullah Khan of the PPP, Sultanat Yar of JI, ex-MPA Bakht Bedar of QWP, Hussain Shah Yousafzai of the ANP, Fakhr-uz-Zaman of the PTI and PML-N’s Ikram Ghani are the contestants. The constituency is a traditional stronghold of the PPP and JI as both won the seat in the past.
However, this time QWP is in stronger position compared to PPP. The real contest on the seat would be between candidates of the JI, QWP and PPP. Independent observers believe Bakht Bedar’s position seems stronger due to his welfare activities and social contacts.

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