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October 15, 2017

Fielding separate candidates may benefit rivals of PTI, JI


October 15, 2017

NA-4 Peshawar by-election

PESHAWAR: The presence of candidates fielded by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) despite being coalition partners in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for the by-election for the National Assembly constituency NA-4 could benefit the nominees of the rival parties.

The JI and PTI have fielded Wasil Farooq and Arbab Amir Ayub, respectively, for the seat that fell vacant after the death of the dissident PTI lawmaker Gulzar Khan. The relations between PTI and JI were tense over a number of issues even before the parties fielded candidates for the NA-4 Peshawar by-election.

Their relations would have worsened if the statement issued by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak’s secretariat welcoming the JI MNA, Sher Akbar, from Buner district into the PTI fold had turned out to be true. It wasn’t true and the Chief Minister’s office hastily admitted its mistake and issued a clarification. Sher Akbar also issued a denial. 

The confusion was caused by the recent decision by a former Buner MPA, Jamshed Khan, who was once part of JI and also other parties, to join the PTI. It is said Sher Akbar was seen in the public meeting in Buner where Jamshed Khan announced joining the PTI.

As for NA-4 Peshawar, both the PTI and JI have sound vote-bank. The nominees of both the parties were elected MNA from the constituency once since 2002. The JI Peshawar chapter head Sabir Hussain Awan, who was a candidate of the six-party religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), was elected MNA from NA-4 in 2002.

He had secured 28,728 votes to defeat Arbab Mohammad Zahir of the Awami National Party (ANP) who got 16,660 votes. Arbab Shabbir of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) with 6,266 votes was placed third.

There was no candidate of the JI in 2008 as the party had boycotted the polls. The winner then was ANP’s Arbab Zahir. In 2013, the JI candidate Sabir Hussain Awan got 16,493 votes to win the third place.

PTI won the seat in the 2013 general election through Gulzar Khan who secured 55,134. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz  (PML-N) candidate, Nasir Khan Musazai, stood second by securing 20,412 votes while Sabir Hussain Awan of JI got 16,493 and Arbab Ayub Jan of the ANP polled 15,795 votes.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) nominee, Arbab Kamal Khan, managed 12,519 votes while Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP)’s Misbahuddin secured 12,031 votes in the last general election.

The JI has now fielded Wasil Farooq, a relatively new face.

PTI’s nominee for the upcoming poll, Arbab Amir Ayub, is a former nazim of Town-IV Peshawar and son of late lawmaker Arbab Noor Mohammad Khan.

His late brother, Arbab Mohammad Zahir, was elected MNA from the constituency in 2008 on the ticket of ANP and was later inducted in the federal cabinet as minister of state.  The PTI candidate is still among the top three in the contest. He has the support of the PTI youth as well as his considerable family vote.

However, differences between coalition partners, PTI and JI, can benefit Nasir Musazai of PML-N, Khushdil Khan of ANP and Asad Gulzar of PPP.

Asad Gulzar is the son of late PTI MNA Gulzar Khan and had recently joined PPP.

He argued that most of the vote his father secured in 2013 was because of his popularity otherwise candidates of PTI for provincial constituencies in NA-4 hardly won by 2,000 or 3,000 votes while the margin between Gulzar Khan and the runner up, Nasir Khan Musazai, was over 35,000.

The ANP has fielded its former deputy speaker in the KP Assembly Khushdil Khan for the by-poll. He is working hard to revive his party’s fortunes as the ANP suffered loss in popularity in recent years.

The PML-N has once again fielded Nasir Musazai for the upcoming by-poll. He is the only candidate among the lot this time who has contested for this seat in the past.

The JUI-F, which is coalition partner in the PML-N-led federal government, withdrew its candidate in favour of Nasir Musazai.

The Qaumi Watan Party and Rah-e-Haq Party, both having insignificant number of supporters in the constituency, have also announced support to the PML-N candidate. Despite being an outsider, Amir Muqam has built a good vote-bank in the constituency due to development work, especially by providing electricity and gas to many areas.

The Amir Muqam factor has enabled the PML-N candidate to gain strength and make it a close fight with nominees of PTI, ANP and other parties.

The PTI had swept the election for the four National Assembly and 11 provincial assembly seats from Peshawar district in 2013. It had won the four National Assembly and 10 out of 11 provincial assembly seats. The 11th provincial assembly seat was won by the PML-N from PK-8 constituency.


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