-PTI, PPP finalise their candidates while embattled PML-N yet to announce its candidates
–Mainly due to Ramzan and blistering heat, denizens of Islamabad remain politically aloof
ISLAMABAD: While the caretaker setup is in place, General Elections 2018 are only a month and a half away and the political temperature is reaching feverish heights by every passing day. The denizens of the capital, however, remain aloof from the election flurry as despite the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) finalising their candidates and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) almost done selecting its own, city level campaigning remains invisible due to the sweltering heat of June and Ramzan.
PTI’s finalised candidates include Raja Khurram Nawaz who will contest from NA-52, PTI supremo Imran Khan who will contest from NA-53 and sitting Member National Assembly (MNA) from NA-48 Asad Umer who is to contest from NA-54.
The PPP too has finalised its candidates; Afzal Khokar is to be the party’s candidate from NA-52, Sibt-ul-Haider Bukhari from NA-53 and brother of former prime minister (PM) Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Raja Imran Ashraf will contest from NA-54.
As PML-N’s top tier is embattled in various cases in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court, various party factions are at loggerheads for the party’s ticket at local level. In the current situation, Tariq Fazal Chaudhary has surfaced as the strongest contender to contest from two seats of the capital namely NA-52 and NA-53. While former MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan is a strong contender for a ticket against Asad Umer of PTI in NA-54 and Mian Aslam of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) for NA-52 and NA-53.
The rural urban divide played in PML-N’s favour during the last general elections, as well as, local bodies elections. It is yet to be seen how the new delimitation will affect this paradigm.
With banners placed few and far between roads and pavements, lone hoardings and half hearted meetings between candidates being the current atmosphere, it is expected that the federal capital will be gripped by election fever immediately after Eid. As per the data from returning officers, 172 individuals have received forms from three constituencies of Islamabad and more candidates are expected to submit their forms by the deadline on June 11.
“With Imran Khan contesting the elections from NA-54, we will execute his campaign 24/7. The citizens of the capital will ensure the victory of IK and other candidates as he is the only hope left for our country and the multiple problems that people face,” said Shumail Abrar, an engineer working in the private sector.
Islamabad previously had two constituencies namely NA-48, which was largely urban and NA-49, which was predominantly rural areas and had a few housing societies. However, another constituency was added after the latest delimitation and at present the capital has three constituencies namely NA-52, NA-53 and NA-54, which are home to 700,744, 670,683 and 630,152 people according to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) data.
It is pertinent to mention here that the new constituency is carved out of what was previously NA-49. Along with some parts of NA-48 that is Islamabad’s other National Assembly (NA) constituency. The new constituencies of NA-52 and 53 constitute what was previously NA-49.