NOWSHERA – A tough contest is expected in by-elections on four National Assembly seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as some top politicians have submitted nomination papers.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 42 candidates are in the run for the four slots in the National Assembly from the province. As per the initial list, six candidates have submitted nomination papers for NA-22 Mardan, nine are in the run for NA-24 Charsadda, 10 for NA-31 Peshawar and 17 are contesting polls from NA-45 Kurram.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan submitted nomination papers for all the constituencies. The PTI chief has announced he will contest the polls from all the nine constituencies in a bid to prove his popularity. Out of the nine seats, by-elections will be held in four constituencies in KP, including NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar and NA-45 Kurram, on September 25.
The seats fell vacant after the resignations of PTI Members of the National Assembly Ali Muhammad Khan, Fazal Mohammad Khan, Shaukat Ali and Fakhar Zaman were accepted by National Assembly Speaker Raja Parvaiz Ashraf along with seven other MNAs. They had tendered resignations around four months back. The PTI workers will have to work hard to ensure the victory of Imran Khan in all four constituencies in KP. The competition will be tough as the opposition alliance has fielded joint candidates against Imran Khan.
The Awami National Party has once again fielded Ghulam Ahmad Bilour against the PTI chairman in Peshawar. Ghulam Bilour and Imran Khan contested polls against each other from the same constituency, then NA-1, in 2013. The PTI chairman won the seat but later vacated it and retained another one from Punjab. Ghulam Bilour, however, remained successful in the by-poll.
In the 2018 general election, PTI candidate Shaukat Ali was elected MNA from this constituency by defeating Ghulam Bilour by a huge margin. This time the opposition parties are also supporting Ghulam Bilour against Imran Khan whose party has been ruling KP since 2013. Ghulam Bilour was elected MNA from the constituency for the first time in 1988, and that too in the by-election. He had lost the seat to Aftab Amad Khan Sherpao of the PPP in the general election.
The by-poll on NA-24 will be interesting as it is the constituency of ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and his son Aimal Wali is flexing muscles against Imran Khan.
Aimal has yet to become a member of either national or provincial assembly. The PTI had won the seat with a big margin in the last general election. While submitting nomination papers, representatives of a number of opposition parties accompanied Aimal to express support for him. The election on NA-22 Mardan seat between Ali Muhammad Khan of PTI and a popular religious scholar Maulana Muhammad Qasim of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal in 2018 though the former won it. This time the contest is taking place between Maulana Qasim and Imran Khan.
Apart from the PTI chairman, former MNA Ali Muhammad has also submitted nomination papers to run for the seat in Mardan while Fazal Khan has submitted papers for the slot from Charsadda. In NA-45 Kurram, this will be the second by-poll after the 2018 general election. Munir Orakzai of the MMA had won the seat in 2018 general polls.
(Source: National print and online media with input from social media and local sources).