PESHAWAR: Although almost all political forces are making plans to bag the PK-8, Peshawar-VIII seat in the by-election, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is likely to benefit from division among the ranks of opposition as well as ruling parties.
“If the opposition’s tripartite alliance [of ANP, JUI-F and PPP] and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf-led coalition remains scattered, it could be beneficial to our candidate,” PML-N K-P General Secretary Rahmat Salam Khattak said when contacted by The Express Tribune.
Rifts between allies
The hopes of Awami National Party leaders for a consensus were shattered by their partners from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl who have formally started a campaign in favour of their candidate.
Leaders and stalwarts of the ruling party, PTI, have already opposed awarding the party ticket to a relative of the late PML-N MPA Arbab Akbar Hayat and are determined to field their own candidate. The leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party also declared a former MPA as their candidate for the constituency.
The seat fell vacant after the demise of Arbab Akbar on March 17. Now PML-N has decided to field Arbab Waseem Hayat for the seat. Arbab Waseem is the nephew of the late Arbab Akbar. Rahmat Salam confirmed they assigned the task of getting support of other opposition parties to PML-N parliamentary leader Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha. However, Salam confirmed they had as yet “no positive responses from leaders of opposition parties for announcing Arbab Waseem as a joint candidate”.
Determined to participate
Former provincial minister and JUI-F leader Asif Iqbal Daudzai was runner-up against Arbab Akbar in the 2013 general elections. Daudzai has claimed a party ticket and has started an informal campaign. But JUI-F Information Secretary Jalil Jan said they will make a final decision in a few days.
Being part of a tripartite alliance, JUI-F leaders are making an attempt to muster support of PPP and ANP. But PPP leaders are reluctant to do so as PPP’s Malik Tahmash Khan was elected from PK-8 in 2008 general elections. And Tahmash has made up his mind to contest the by-polls.
ANP’s Sardar Hussain Babak said, “There are no chances of a consensus candidate from the opposition; we will definitely field our own nominee.” He added ANP K-P leaders were going to hold a meeting on Tuesday (today) where they will announce a candidate as well as their election strategy. “ANP is too strong in this part of Peshawar and proper planning could help us succeed in by-polls.”
PTI provincial leaders have decided to field their candidate in the by-polls. But there are some rifts among stalwarts from the area who are eyeing the party ticket. So far four PTI veterans are throwing their hats in the ring.
JI, which is in coalition, has also announced they will take part in the by-polls. Pakistan Rah-e-Haq, a reincarnation of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, has already announced the name of its candidate, which could make it hard for the JUI-F candidate.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2016.