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June 22, 2018

Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal contesting from Malakand division


June 22, 2018

PESHAWAR: The top leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are contesting election from Malakand division of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Central PML-N President Mian Shahbaz Sharif is the candidate from the National Assembly constituency NA-3 Swat while the party’s provincial president Engr Amir Muqam is in the run for NA-2 Swat.

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is contesting the polls from NA-8 Malakand and provincial president Humayun Khan from PK-18.

Although Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto have also filed nomination papers from native constituencies in Lahore and Larkana, respectively, they are flexing muscles from KP as well to show that their parties are equally popular in other provinces.

Shahbaz Sharif is facing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) nominee and former MNA Salimur Rehman. Jehanzeb Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP), the MMA and PPP candidates also have vote-bank in the constituency.

The constituency mainly consists of urban areas of the district like Mingora city and surrounding areas where PML-N has a solid vote-bank. However, in the 2013 general election, PTI’s Salimur Rahman, who had switched over from PPP, had won the seat.

Bilawal Bhutto’s decision to contest from Malakand is based on the past record. Malakand was once a stronghold of PPP and known as mini-Larkana.

The party still has a strong base as one of the two ex-MPAs from the district Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha, was from the PPP. Jamaat Islami (JI)’s Bakhtiar Maani and Shahraz Khan were elected MNA and MPA, respectively from Malakand in the past.

The PTI had won the National Assembly from Malakand district in 2013 through Junaid Akbar and one provincial assembly seat also when Shakil Khan was elected by defeating PPP’s former minister Humayun Khan, who is now the party’s provincial president.

This time Bilawal will face the main contender, Junaid Akbar of PTI besides nominees of the ANP, MMA and PML-N.

The PML-N’s Amir Muqam is in the field from NA-2 Swat, though he is contesting from two other National Assembly and two provincial assembly constituencies. On his native NA-10 Shangla constituency, he is facing ANP’s Sadeedur Rehman, PPP’s Dr Afsarul Mulk and PTI’s Nawaz Mehmood or Waqar Ahmad Khan as PTI has not yet decided its candidate.

Amir Muqam is also contesting from PK-2 and PK-4 in Swat. On PK-2, his main electoral rivals are ex-MPA Syed Jafar Shah of the ANP, Sharafat Ali of PTI and others. He will also face the candidates of these parties on PK-4.

On NA-29 Peshawar, Amir Muqam will face PTI’s Shah Farman and ANP’s Arbab Kamal, besides the nominee of MMA.

Although PML-N, especially Amir Muqam, has good support in the NA-29 Peshawar constituency because of the development work he did like provision of electricity and gas to the population, PTI and ANP also have strong vote-bank.

The PTI nominee Gulzar Khan had won the seat in the 2013 general election and after his death, the PTI secured the seat in the by-election as its candidate Arbab Aamir emerged victorious against ANP’s Khushdil Khan and Nasir Musazai of PML-N who later joined PTI. It won’t be easy for Amir Muqam to dislodge PTI’s candidate in this constituency.

The PPP provincial president and former minister in the ANP-PPP coalition government led by Amir Haider Hoti, Humayun Khan is also contesting polls from his native Malakand district. He had won this seat in the 2008 general elections but lost to Shakil Ahmad of the PTI in the 2013 elections. He is again facing Shakil along with nominees of the MMA, ANP and PML-N.

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