Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa: Those who lost prepare to stage comeback

PESHAWAR: While the PTI made inroads into the political realm of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the May 11 elections, today’s by-polls have gathered more meaning for the losing political parties.

The ANP, JUI-F and PPP are rolling up their sleeves. “The by-elections are a test for the PTI’s achievement and their slogan of change since the formation of its government in the province,” believes Arbab Tahir, the ANP’s provincial general secretary. “We will see which way the pendulum swings.”

However, the PTI leadership perceives things differently. “People will keep Imran’s vision in sight, not the nascent government,” MPA Ziallullah Afridi told The Express Tribune. “Three months is not a yardstick for measuring the government’s competence.”

Drama number-1

NA-1 (Peshawar-I) is the most crucial of constituencies, where ANP’s Haji Ghulam Bilour is jostling against PTI’s Gul Bacha. Keeping its controversially intriguing history alive, NA-1 has once again been the spectrum of all the drama, in which PTI’s dissident Samad Mursaleen, who insisted on contesting independently despite not being allotted a party ticket, was asked to leave the party. Mursaleen has named his party as the “Tehreek-e-Insaf Nazriati”.

Before Bilour’s massive defeat on May 11, NA-1 held a symbolic importance for the ANP as this constituency has been the bastion of its politics in the province. A victory here can impact the future course of the political landscape against the ruling PTI.  No matter what the outcome, the impact of these by-elections could be a major game changer in KP.

PTI banking on charisma

In an unlikely development, two parties backed by all other political parties are going to contest the elections from NA-13 (Swabi-II): PTI backed by QWP, JI and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) along with other religious factions, and JUI-F backed by the ANP and PPP.

The polls here would decide not just the fate of JUI-F but also that ANP’s, who have launched massive campaigns against the PTI in the area. Meanwhile, the PTI is striving hard to win this constituency, which is considered their stronghold. Most of the people are not happy with the party’s Asad Qaiser, who had won the seat in the May 11 election and was appointed K-P Assembly Speaker, and his brother, Aqibullah, who he has now nominated. However, it is believed that people are still gripped by Imran’s charisma that may make them win the seat again. Aqibullah will go head to head with JUI-F’s Maulana Attaul Haq Darvesh.

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