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July 24, 2018
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All eyes on NA-35 Bannu

National

July 24, 2018

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PESHAWAR: All eyes are set on the National Assembly constituency NA-35 Bannu where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) head Imran Khan is contesting the election against the former chief minister and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani.

Though the JUI-F had won the seat easily in the previous three general elections, this time the formidable challenge from Imran Khan has made the contest nail-biting. Durrani, who served as federal minister in the previous PML-N-led federal government, may not have faced such a tough competitor in the past.

The PTI chief held two public meetings in Bannu as part of his election campaign to muster support in the constituency. His popularity, particularly among the youth, has made the situation very interesting but it is still unclear as to which candidate has an edge over the other.

Durrani carried out record development work in Bannu during his term as chief minister from 2002-2008 and as the federal minister in the outgoing set-up. He developed a network of roads in his native district and worked for promotion of education and quality healthcare to the people. It enhanced his vote-bank.

It is believed that being a native of the area, which is primarily inhabited by the Bannuchi tribe to which Durrani belongs, would give him an advantage over Imran Khan. He also enjoys the support of PML-N and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) in the election. The two parties have withdrawn candidates in his favour in a bid to defeat the PTI chairman.

The JUI-F affiliated clerics run many madrassas in the district and this too would help Durrani. The election on NA-35, previously the NA-26, was won by Durrani in 2013. One dozen candidates including a woman are contesting the election from the constituency.

The JUI-Sami has awarded party ticket to Mufti Islam Noor and a woman Syeda Yasmin Safdar is contesting the election on the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) ticket. Abdul Samad Khan of Pak Sarzameen Party, Inamullah Khan of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party (PJDP), Liaqat Ali of All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Wali Dad Khan of Pakistan Amn Tehreek, Amin Ullah of Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party and independent candidates Muhammad Usman Ali Khan, Hamid Shah and Safdar Iqbal Shah are also in the race.

The JUI-F and MMA candidates had won from NA-35 with huge margins in the previous elections. Maulana Nasib Ali Shah had contested the election on the ticket of MMA and won the seat in 2002 general election. He bagged 78,886 votes against the runner-up independent candidate, Muhammad Mustafa Khan, who secured 31,867 votes.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had won the election from this constituency in the 2008 general election. He had secured 91,484 votes against 56,500 votes polled by Malik Nasir Khan.

Akram Durrani had won the election from the same seat in the 2013 elections on the JUI-F ticket. He bagged 78,294 votes against the 45,270 votes polled by an independent candidate Maulana Naseem Ali Shah, who was actually a JUI-F dissident.

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