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August 3, 2018

ANP takes PK-70 seat from PTI in vote recount

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August 3, 2018

PTI leader Shah Farman.

PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Khushdil Khan emerged victorious on the PK-70 seat after the recount that increased his party's general seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to seven.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Shah Farman had contested the election on PK-70 and PK-71 seats and won from both the constituencies. He had emerged winner with a margin of 47 votes only as he had secured 15,404 votes whilKhushdil Khan got 15,357.

However, Khushdil Khan sought the recount of votes. He was declared the winner with 14,871 valid votes while Shah Farman's votes dropped to 14,684. After the recount, the ANP candidate won the constituency by 187 votes.

Interestingly, the Form-45 signed by returning officer on July 26 uploaded by the Election Commission of Pakistan on its website claimed that the votes polled were 50,717. It said the valid votes were 48, 622 while the rejected votes were 2, 095.

However, the Form 49 released on August 2 said that the total valid votes polled were 47,047 while 3,613 votes were rejected. According to the Form 49 that contained the final consolidated result, the total votes polled were 50,660 that are 57 votes less than the polled votes of Form 47.

With the victory of Khushdil Khan, the ANP would now have nine members in the KP Assembly, including seven on general seats. An official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) told The News that ANP could send two women to KP Assembly on reserved seats.

Khushdil Khan and Shah Farman hail from Badaber village which is located in the PK-70 constituency. Khushdil Khan started parliamentary politics in the 2002 election but lost to the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate.

He was successful in the 2008 election and remained deputy speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from 2008 to 2013 when his party formed coalition government with Pakistan People's Party (PPP). He lost the 2013 general election for the provincial assembly and also the by-election on NA-4 after the death of PTI MNA Gulzar Khan.

Khushdil Khan had led the peace committee in his area to counter the wave of terrorism in the area. At the time, the militants first showed their presence by destroying the Government Girls High School on August 22, 2008.

After the recount, the jubilant ANP workers took Khushdil Khan to his native village in a procession. A large number of people had gathered at his hujra to congratulate him on his victory.

Talking to The News, Khushdil Khan appreciated the role of returning officer. "The presiding officer played a commendable role despite pressure from the PTI candidate and his supporters."

When asked whether he still supported his party leadership's stance on rigging in the election, he said that rigging had been done wherever there was an opportunity to steal the election. He asked the ECP to investigate the causes of rejected votes and take action against the presiding officers at whose polling stations a large number of votes were rejected.

The former deputy speaker said his first priority would be the completion of incomplete projects in his constituency that included those launched by the ANP government. He said he had established a hospital at a cost of Rs390 million but it was not made fully functional during the PTI rule. He said he got rebuilt the destroyed school and upgraded it to the higher secondary level.

Khushdil Khan took the credit for establishing a government degree college in the constituency, saying the area where the college was established was undeveloped and students faced problems in receiving higher education.

Asked how he had regained the voters' confidence as he had lost the recently held by-election, he insisted that he never lost the voters' trust as he continued to live among them and worked for them.