Balochistan: PkMAP, JUI-F to fight it out for Qilla Abdullah


QUETTA: 

In the southwestern province, an interesting fight is anticipated for one National Assembly seat – NA-262 (Qila Abdullah) – and three provincial seats.

While all eyes are set on the NA seat, where a close contest is expected between the JUI-F and the PkMAP, the results are already rather visible for the provincial offices, as influential families will retain their positions with the support of the federal and provincial governments.

Meanwhile, arrangements for by-elections are complete, according to Provincial Election Commissioner Sultan Bayazid.

Under the radar

NA-262, which comprises Qilla Abdullah, a district that borders Afghanistan, is the hottest seat up for grabs in Balochistan during this electoral cycle.

This seat has generated interest amongst political observers as it will shed crucial light on the popularity of the top two parties in the region. While the JUI-F enjoyed the support of the establishment after the US invasion of Afghanistan, it was virtually dislodged by Mehmood Khan Achakzai’s PkMAP during the May 11 elections.

Vacated by Achakzai, who retained NA-259 (Quetta-I), the seat will see a tough contest between PkMAP’s Abdul Qahar Khan Wadan and Qari Muhammad Sher Ali, the joint candidate of JUI-F and the ANP. Another party in the race is Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Ideological.

PML-N for the win?

In PB-29 (Nasirabad-II), the competition is between PML-N’s Mir Muhammad Khan Lehri, independent candidate Mir Muhammad Amin Umrani, and BNP-M’s Mir Muhammad Ismail Mengal. PML-N’s Amir Abdul Ghafoor Lehri had won the seat in the May 11 elections, but the result was cancelled on the orders of the top court after Ghafoor’s degree was declared fake.

Familial dominance

In Jhal Magsi, former opposition leader Nawabzada Tariq Magsi, contesting as an independent, PML-N’s Sardar Dhani Baksh Lashari and JUI-F’s Maulvi Abdul Fatah Lashari are vying for PB-32. Elections, here, were postponed after independent candidate Abdul Fateh Magsi was murdered allegedly by his rivals. The Magsi family has retained this seat since 1977 – they are expected to emerge victorious again.

Princely wins

The provincial assembly seat, PB-44 (Lasbela-I), is likely to be won by PML-N’s Prince Ahmad Ali. However, his expected victory will not be overriding, as the seat is also being sought by independent candidate Raees Nawaz Ali Burfat and PPP’s Nasrullah Roonjha, both are strong candidates.

Ali is the grandson of the late Khan of Kalat and also of Jam Mir Ghulam Qadir Khan of Lasbela. With such a lineage, his chances of a defeat seem slim. PB-44 was vacated by Jam Mir Kamal Khan, son of the late former chief minister, Mir Jam Mohammad Yusuf.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.