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July 16, 2018

Electioneering gains momentum in Lower Dir district


July 16, 2018

PESHAWAR: Like other parts of the country, electioneering for the July 25 general elections is in full swing in Lower Dir district as political parties are holding corner and public meetings to gain maximum support of the electorate.

Unlike the past’s direct contest between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), this time the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are among the main contenders.

The ANP is gaining ground in Lower Dir where the party has sufficiently improved its vote bank during the last couple of years.

The PTI emerged as a political force in the district after the 2013 general elections wherein the party was runner-up on the then lone National Assembly seat.

On National Assembly constituency NA-6, former senator Zahid Khan is the ANP candidate, PPP nominee is ex-senator Ahmad Hasan Khan.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has fielded Maulana Asadullah while Javed Akhtar Tajik of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Mehboob Shah of PTI are also in the run among the total eight candidates.

Though in the past, PPP and JI have been the main contenders winning the constituency turn by turn, in the 2013 elections JI won the seat and PTI stood as runner-up.

After delimitation, Lower Dir got second seat and a provincial seat as well as changes were made in the constituency.

Though PPP’s Ahmad Hasan Khan is an experienced politician and has remained national and provincial assembly member, district nazim and senator, PTI has also emerged as new political force in the district.

The ANP has improved its vote bank to a greater extent because of Zahid Khan’s efforts and execution of development projects, especially the provision of natural gas to the area.

Extending gas facility to the far-flung areas of the remote district is considered a major development, which is not only a multimillions project but also a task normally difficult even for a federal minister to accomplish.

Electorate in the district are appreciative of Zahid Khan for provision of gas to the area and scores of people from other political parties have joined ANP during the last couple of years.

On the other hand, Dir has been a stronghold of JI though PPP has old vote bank and PTI has also gained the ground. But political observers expect tough contest between the ANP and the MMA.

On NA-7, the JI head Sirajul Haq is MMA candidate against Muhammad Bashir of the PTI, Shahid Jan of PPP, Nazir Khan of ANP, and Sobia Khan of the PML-N, besides others.

The PPP and the ANP have a good number of voters and supporters and ANP’s Bahadur Khan is considered stronger against JI on the provincial assembly seat but on the NA seat, analysts expect a tough contest between MMA and PTI.

On the provincial assembly seat PK-13, Shah Nawaz Khan of MMA, Muhammad Zaib of the ANP, PTI’s Azam Khan, PML-N’s Azhar Taqweem, and PPP’s Zamin Khan are among the 7 candidates, but ANP and MMA have an edge over the others.

On PK-14, former minister Bakht Baidar Khan of the PPP, MMA’s Dr Zakirullah, PTI’s Humayun Khan, PML-N’s Syed Ghani and ANP’s Hussain Shah are among the 11 contenders but real contest is expected between PPP and MMA nominees.

Similarly, on PK-15, former provincial ministers Mehmood Zaib of PPP and Muzafar Said of MMA are the main contesters.

On PK-16, former MPA Aizazul Mulk Afkari is MMA nominee against ex-MPA Bahadur Khan of ANP and PTI’s Sarbiland Khan and political observers expect the fight between ANP and MMA while for PK-17, MMA’s Saeed Gul, PTI’s Liaqat Ali, PPP’s Muzafar Khan and ANP’s Naeem Jan are in the run.