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Friday June 14, 2024

Close contest likely in Swat by-elections on two PK seats

By mahboob ali yousafzai
October 08, 2018

MINGORA: Unlike the July 25, 2018 general election when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) swept the polls in Swat, this time a neck-and-neck contest is expected on two provincial assembly seats in the district.

The electioneering is in full swing for the October 14 by-election on the two seats, PK-3 and PK-7, Swat. PTI had won all the three national and eight provincial assembly seats of the district in the July 25 polls.

However, Dr Haider Ali, who won both national and provincial assembly seats of NA-2 and PK-3 on PTI tickets, vacated PK-3 seat after the party decision. Similarly, Dr Amjad Ali, who was elected on two provincial seats vacated PK-7. In the July 2018 general election on PK-3, Dr Haider had defeated Sardar Khan of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and secured 18,470 votes against 12,920 of his rival.

Dr Amjad Ali, who vacated PK-7 seat, had secured 19,460 votes and won the July election. Waqar Ahmad Khan of Awami National Party (ANP) remained runner-up and secured 13,636 votes in the July 25 election.

For the upcoming by-polls, the ruling PTI has fielded Sajid Ali Khan, nephew of Dr Haider Ali Khan, to contest election from PK-3 against PML-N leader Sardar Khan who has the support of joint opposition alliance.

Founding member of PTI Muhammad Zeb Khan, who has recently parted his ways with PTI, is also in the run on this constituency, after the party preferred Sajid Ali Khan and awarded ticket to him. On PK-7, a neck-and-neck contest is expected between PTI candidate Fazal Maula and Awami National Party candidate Waqar Ahmad Khan, who stood second in the last general election.

Waqar Ahmad Khan has the support of joint opposition alliance as well. However, Saeed Khan Dherai, an old member of PTI in the constituency, is contesting elections as an independent candidate, who may affect the party votes.

Political pundits give due importance to the by-elections and consider these to be a test case for the PTI as Swat is the home district of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. Similarly, PK-7 is also the constituency of Murad Saeed, state minister for communications, and an important seat where Fazal Maula is considered to be a close ally of Murad Saeed.

Unlike the general election, this time the opposition parties, including ANP, PML-N, MMA, PkMAP are supporting PML-N candidate Sardar Khan and Waqar Ahmad Khan of ANP in PK-3 and PK-7 constituencies, respectively. According to figures provided by Election Commission of Pakistan, the total numbers of voters in PK-3 are 146,180 which include 64,317 women. In PK-7, the total numbers of voters are 155,719, including 66,771 women.