- Asfandyar, Sherpao to face tough competition from PTI, MMA
PESHAWAR: The novice candidates of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have challenged Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao in their native district of Charsadda in the July 25 polls.
Seasoned politician Asfandyar Wali, who is contesting election 2018 from NA-24 Charsadda-II, had remained unlucky in 2002 and 2013 general elections as he was twice defeated by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) cleric Maulana Gohar Shah. This time around, the ANP supremo is facing Fazal Muhammad Khan of PTI, who stood runner-up in the last general elections.
In 2013, Moulana Gohar Shah of JUI-F stood victorious by clinching 53,610 votes whereas PTI’s Fazal Muhammad stood runner-up with 40,254 votes while Asfandyar Wali remained third with 38,264 votes. In 2008 elections, Asfandyar clinched victory after securing 57,234 votes against PPP’s Naseer Muhammad Khan, who secured 17,883 votes.
A survey of the constituency by APP revealed that PTI has gained significant vote bank in the constituency and even Maulana Gohar Shah, the winner of previous two elections, was facing a difficult time at the hands of Fazal Muhammad Khan, son of a former federal minister and senator late Nisar Muhammad Khan, who has very strong roots in the constituency.
PTI has given tickets to three former turncoat MPAs from Charssada including Fazal Shakoor Khan for PK-59, Sultan Muhammad Khan for PK-58 and Khalid Khan Mohmand for PK-56, as they quit JUI-F and QWP respectively. The joining of three former lawmakers would benefit Fazal Muhammad Khan.
A total of seven candidates are in the run in this constituency including Iftikhar Alam of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Zahoor Ahmed of All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Muhammad Shafiq of Tahreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Farooq Shah (Independent) and Mian Alamgir Shah of PML-N.
The PPP and PMLN candidates also have roots in the constituency besides having a significant party vote and can cause an upset in the elections.
On NA-23 Charsadda-I, QWP Chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao has been challenged by Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s (MMA) Zafar Ali Khan, PTI’s Anwar Taj and ANP’s Gulzar Ahmed after a withdrawal of nomination papers by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq.
Aftab Sherpao is the main contender since he had won this constituency since 1988 and is again posing a serious challenge to the rival candidates. The withdrawal of papers by Sirajul Haq would benefit MMA candidate Zafar Ali Khan.
In 2002 General Election, Aftab Sherpao had secured victory from here after securing 42,326 votes against runner-up Iftikhar Khan Matta who bagged 18,346 votes.
In 2008 elections, Sherpao had narrowly escaped by winning this seat with 30,626 votes against ANP’s Bashir Khan Umarzai with 29,951 votes. In 2013, Sherpao again clinched victory after obtaining 37,044 votes against close runner up of JUI-F Musammir Shah with 33,836 votes.
Former MPA Arif Ahmed Zai, who had won 2013 general elections on PTI ticket from Charsadda district, has succeeded in getting the PTI ticket for PK-60 following a successful protest by his supporters at Bani Gala.
The PTI had overlooked senior leader Jehanzaib Dhaki, who had contested last general elections on PTI ticket from NA-23, and awarded ticket to Anwar Taj against which the political workers and loyalists of the former lodged a protest at Bani Gala. This contention may affect PTI’s vote bank in this constituency.
On PK-56, ANP has awarded ticket to Yasir Amin after overlooking senior leader Hamayun Khattak, who has jumped into electoral battle as an independent candidate as a protest. This division of votes would benefit QWP leader and former MPA Sikandar Khan Sherpao, JUI-F’s Mufti Gohar, PTI’s Khalid Mohmand, PML-N’s Tahira Bukhari and JI’s Samiullah in this constituency, besides negatively effecting vote bank of ANP.