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Sunday, 21 April 2013

PPP and ANP neck and neck in Peshawar valley’s five districts

PPP and ANP neck and neck in Peshawar valley’s five districts
Allies in previous coalition government, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Awami National Party would contest polls neck-in-neck in five central districts of Peshawar valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).


Though in recent past, the ANP remained main beneficiary in Peshawar, Charsadda and Swabi districts, whereas the PPP proved itself a superior force in Mardan and Nowshera. But now the situation seems tough for the PPP in both Mardan and Nowshera districts due to internal rifts. However, in Peshawar, the PPP improved its position in urban areas but facing hardships in rural areas.
It seems that candidates from three main contenders the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are likely to imbalance the situation. On security grounds, the ANP leadership is facing multiple problems, which could help the JUI-F, PML-N and PTI of jubilating the opportunities. Whereas, seat-to-seat adjustment in two districts goes against the ANP interests.


In 2008 general elections, the ANP grabbed six of 13 national and 21 of 36 provincial assembly seats in all five districts of Peshawar valley. Whereas the PPP become runner up with getting four national and nine provincial assembly seats. Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao's Pakistan People’s Party now renamed as the Qaumi Watan Party had won a single national and three provincial assembly seats. The JUI-F got one each seat of national and provincial assembly seats. An independent elected to National Assembly from Swabi and two (independents) from same district to KP Assembly. All these three independents remained in association with the PPP along with their counterpart from PPP-S.

Maulana Muhammad Gohar Shah

Comparing to 2008, the situation is different in all five districts. ANP leadership is facing severe threats of terrorist attacks, but PPP in previous couple of years had lost association of its certain heavy weights.
Remaining political forces made stable their position in the region. Yaseen Khalil of PPP from Peshawar, Pervez Khattak and Iqbal Hussain Khattak of PPP-S from Nowshera, who later became part of PPP have joined the PTI. Former district nazim Daud Khattak and Hajj Khan Khattak from Nowshera have joined the ANP. ANPs Hasham Babar had joined the PTI, but now contesting polls as independent candidate.
Ex-provincial minister Khawaja Mohammad Khan of ANP first switched to ANP and later to PTI and now contesting on a PML-N ticket. Some main PPP leaders and stalwarts from Mardan joined PTI and PML-N. Amongst them Muazzam Hoti and Iftikhar Mohmand are prominent. The independents who were elected from Swabi are now facing hardships and their instability is going to benefit ANP and QWP.
Despite severe terrorist threats, Bilour's credibility is on the rise in Peshawar. Like 1990, Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour is facing a heavyweight like Imran Khan in NA-1 Peshawar. In 1990, he defeated Benazir Bhutto from this constituency. However in 90, Bilour was enjoying support of the PML-N. This time he has no visible support of other political forces, but it seems that he could grab sympathies of Peshawar in return of sacrifices being rendered by the family for peace and stability.
Position of ANP candidates on three provincial assembly constituencies seems satisfactory as elder Bilour is accompanied by younger Bilours, Ghazanfar Bilour from PK-1 and Barrister Haroon Bilour from PK-3. On a third seat ANP has fielded Malik Ghulam Mustafa against PPP provincial president Zahir Ali Shah. People of Peshawar observe that Bilours and Saadat's have entered into a compromise by fielding weak candidates like Zulfikar Afghani and Malik Ghulam Mustafa. The PML-N, PTI and JUI-F have also fielded candidates on these constituencies but their position seems weak. Former PPP minister Arbab Alamgir Khalil is contesting from a national and a provincial assembly seat. He is being challenged by ANP's Arbab Najibullah on national and Arbab Tahir on provincial assembly seats. No one could neglect the fact that both Najib and Tahir are considered popular but their position was destabilized by former MPA Ateefur Rahman who revolted against the parliamentary board’s decision regarding ticket and now contesting on both national and provincial assembly seats. Alamgir seems main beneficiary of such rifts amongst the ranks of ANP. Position of ex-MNA Noor Alam Khan who is contesting from N- 3 seems satisfactory due to rifts and differences amongst ANP. However, his rivals are PML-N candidate Iqbal Zafar Jaghra, JUI-F’s Haji Ghulam Ali and PTI's Sajid Nawaz.
In NA-4 from where ANP’s Arbab Zahir remained undefeatable is no more contesting as he was replaced by Arbab Ayub Jan. Ayub barring 2002, remained victorious on provincial assembly seat since 1985, is now contesting on a National Assembly seat. He is facing ex-bureaucrat Gulzar Khan of PTI, Arbab Kamal of JUI-F, Nasar Musazai of PML-N and Sabir Hussain Awan of the Jamaat Islami. ANP has fielded all three former MPAs on provincial assembly seats. However, the ANP nominees would go through a tough time in all four constituencies.
Though the ANP had improved its position in Charsadda and Swabi, but the recent seat-to-seat adjustment between JUI-F and QWP had made the situation difficult. Similar is the position in Mardan where PPP, PML-N) and JUI-F have fielded strong candidates. ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan is contesting from his native NA seat in Charsadda. He is facing Gohar Shah of JUI-F and QWP. In fact, it is not first ever alliance between the two parties against ANP. Since 1988, Aftab Sherpao is making such alliances against ANP in Charsadda but this time he is lacking association of ex-federal minister Nisar Mohammad Khan, ex-provincial minister Haji Ihsan Ullah Khan and other individuals. Some of Nisar Khan's family members are contesting on PTI tickets and other on JI tickets. Whereas Ihsan is contesting elections on a PML-N ticket. It is likelt that real contest will be between ANP and QWP in one national and at least three provincial assembly constituencies.
Situation in Mardan is not too different from 2008 general elections where PPP, ANP and JUI-F are facing each others on all three national and eight provincial assembly seats. However, slipping of ex-federal minister Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti to PML-N had improved the party’s position.
Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti (Dec 2011) – File Photo
Former KP chief minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti is ANP candidate on national and provincial assembly seats from Mardan city. He is facing Khawaja Hoti on national and his son Omar Farooq on the provincial assembly seat. Former PPP MNA Khanzada and JUI-F candidate Qasam are making attempts for retaining their national assembly seats from remaining two constituencies. So far PPP, JUI-F and ANP leadership have resolved internal rifts amongst the party ranks over tickets but PML-N is going through worst kind of rifts across Mardan.
Like previous elections, atmosphere is favourable for ANP in Swabi district. Though ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan had faced defeat on National Assembly seat in 2008, but the party won one national and four provincial assembly seats. The ANP had grabbed three out of six provincial assembly seats in 2002 general elections. Like Charsadda, there is seat-to-seat adjustment between JUI-F and QWP in Swabi, but the JUI-F is not only ahead with internal revolt, but its candidates are also facing joint candidates of Islamic Solidarity Council, especially JI and Jumaat Ishaat commonly known as Panjpeeris on all seats. The one time strong Awami Jamhoori Ittehad, commonly known as Tarakwaal Group is also facing rifts and divisions. The PML-N is considered strong on one national and one provincial assembly seat but recently one of the leaguers joined the JUI-F. The PPP has no existence in certain parts of Swabi.
Unlike Peshawar and Mardan, PPP is going through a tough time in its Nowshera stronghold from where Engineer Tariq is trying to retain his national and Liaqat Shabab his provincial assembly seats. In 2008polls, there was an undeclared seat-to-seat adjustment between the PPP and PPP-S (now QWP). But there is no existence of QWP as Pervez Khattak along with associates had joined PTI. The PPP had also lost Daud Khattak, Hajj Mohammad and Shahid Khattak like heavy weights. Whereas the ANP has made its position stable in Nowshera.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain
Ex-information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain is also in the run on a provincial assembly seat from Nowshera and is facing hardships in election campaign. Asif Luqman Qazi is also contesting on national and provincial assembly seats from Nowshera. However, people from this district are feeling absence of late Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Ajmal Khattak who are no more in the world.

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