Activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are increasingly confident about their electoral fortunes in the federal capital where the party is vying for two National Assembly seats. One of the party’s stalwarts Makhdoom Javed Hashmi is contesting from NA-48 while Chaudhry Ilyas Mehrban, a youth leader, is competing from NA-49.
PTI leaders and workers say they can already feel the wind of change sweeping the country. Their confidence stems largely from the success of their party’s election rallies, particularly in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“Previously, we thought that we could secure around 20 seats from across the country, but now these seats could jump to 120 as we feel that the scenario is changing in our favour,” said PTI youth leader Ahmad Khattak. Imran Khan, according to Khattak, openly held rallies in different parts of the country, particularly in K-P, where some parties could not campaign and people were joining PTI everywhere.
Khattak expects Javed Hashmi to win the Islamabad seat due to his personal popularity as he won from Rawalpindi in 2008 despite the fact that he was an outsider.
Other party supporters are counting on its youth leadership. Some of them have even cited the example of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s weak position in the early phase of the 2008 elections, when the party had given its Islamabad tickets to two untested youth candidates. Even the contesting PML-N candidate Tariq Fazal Chaudhry publicly stated that the actual competition would be between the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) candidates and that the PML-N was contesting the elections just to record its presence. However, the PML-N’s youth candidates surprised everyone by winning at the eleventh hour.
The competition in NA-48
In the NA-48 constituency there is a four-way race between Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)’s candidate Mian Aslam, PPP’s Faisal Sakhi Butt, PTI’s Javed Hashmi and PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel Khan.
The JI and PML-N candidates are considered the top contenders for the seat. PTI still insists that veteran politician Javed Hashmi has the edge over them, because of his personal political clout along with the party’s popularity.
At the same time, the JI and PML-N candidates are expected to cut each other’s votes.
The battle for NA-49
On the other hand, the favourites from NA-49 are PML-N’s former lawmaker Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and PPP’s Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar. However, analysts say that the PML-N and JI candidates will cut each other’s votes in this constituency as well and that can benefit either PPP or PTI. People in the street say there has been an unpredictable election turnout in the two seats of Islamabad and Imran Khan’s slogan of change could change the entire scenario at the last moment.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2013.