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December 19, 2007

Tough contest expected in NA-17


December 19, 2007

ABBOTTABAD: Tough contest is expected between both faction of Pakistan Muslim League in NA-17 Abbottabad, where former NWFP Chief Minister Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan of PML-N challenges former Federal Minister for Petroleum Ammanullah Khan Jadoon of PML-Q.

NA-17 Abbottabad-1 has a total 313,808 registered votes, which include 170,139 male and 143,660 female votes. Although election activities are yet to take momentum in the district and people are showing least interest due to severity of cold weather as well as price hike specially the prevailing flour crises. The poor people spent most of their time in the long queues in front of utility stores to get the wheat flour.

Political observers feel that the turn out would be low, if the situation remains the same.

All the political parties including PPP, PML-N and PML-Q have kicked off their election campaign in Abbottabad like other parts of the country and established their election offices, while Jamaat-e-Islami and lawyers' community have boycotted the election and withdrew nomination papers of their candidates.

Candidates have displayed their posters at every hook and corner of the city besides displaying huge billboards at different locations.

Five candidates are in the run after the withdrawal of five others, which include Ammanullah Khan Jadoon of PML-Q, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan of PML-N, Raja Aurangezeb Khan of MMA, Ghulam Mustafa Samsam Qureshi of MQM and Dr Azhar Khan Jadoon an independent.

Sardar Mehtab and Ammanullah Jadoon are being considered old rivals and contesting elections against each other since long.

In 2002 general elections Mehtab avoided to contest the elections and supported Dr Azhar Jadoon, an independent candidate. Jadoon bagged the seat in 2002 general elections by getting 44,716 votes whereas Dr Azhar Jadoon got 30,949 votes.

Sardar Mehtab entered the national politics in 1990 and made hat trick by winning consecutively from this

constituency since 1997. He also remained federal minister for Kashmir Affairs.

Later he vacated the seat in 1997 and opted to keep provincial assembly seat and became NWFP chief minister.

In 1988, Farid Khan Jadoon, brother of Ammanullah Jadoon was elected from NA-17, while Ammanullah Jadoon was elected in 1985 and preferred to keep provincial assembly seat. In bye-election, Malik Abdul Rauf was elected from NA-17.

Tough contest is expected amongst both the heavy weights and old rivals - Ammanullah Jadoon and Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, however Dr Azhar Jadoon has also cultivated his own considerable vote bank in the urban areas of the constituency as well as in the far eastern union councils of the constituency. On the one hand he might affect the voters of PML-N being their candidate in previous election and on other hand directly or indirectly damage the vote bank of Ammanullah Jadoon as part of the Jadoon tribe. Raja Aurangezeb Khan who is contesting on MMA ticket may not play affective role due to the boycott of Jamaat-e-Islami.

In the 2002 elections Habibur Rehman Abbassi, candidate of MMA clinched 21,383 votes.

Ammanullah Jadoon who remained federal petroleum minister in Shaukat Aziz cabinet has the credit of providing Sui gas facility to maximum area of his constituency, while PML-N has been asking for votes by criticizing the previous government's policies specially damaging national institutions including judiciary.

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