Election results in Charsadda district resemble those in other parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ‘tsunami’ sweeping the polls and emerging as the single largest party in the region.
In 2002, the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) gave the Awami National Party (ANP) a tough time in an alliance with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), earning three provincial assembly (PK) seats and one National Assembly (NA) seat. Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) clinched one NA and two PK seats.
At that time, JUI-F leader Maulana Gohar Shah, who was elected an MNA from NA-7, had also won against ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan. With Shah unable to contest the constituency in 2008, the ANP gained its lost foothold when Asfandyar won against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Naseer Muhammad Khan.
The ANP also won three PK and one NA seat in those polls with QWP chief Aftab Ahmad Sherpao succeeding on one NA and three PK seats. Later on, Babar Ali of the QWP won another PK seat in the by-elections.
This time round, Sherpao formed an alliance with the JUI-F on one NA and three PK seats, leaving three PK and another NA seat open. The alliance made a clean sweep on one NA and three PK seats while Maulana Gohar Shah returned to claim victory in NA-7.
Two PK seats were won by the QWP. Sherpao also managed to win one NA and two PK seats himself, bringing his party’s tally to four provincial assembly and one National Assembly seat in Charsadda.
According to local ANP leader Khalid Khan, the party spent over Rs10 billion in establishing Bacha Khan University and completing various health and communication network projects in ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan’s hometown. Yet, when a journalist put forth a question asking why the ANP was whitewashed in Charsadda, Sartaj Khan of the Charsadda Union of Journalists said those who were angered over the course of the party’s five-year tenure did not vote in Asfandyar’s favour. “The party was also not able to campaign as others did, and the remaining damage was inflicted by the two-party seat adjustment [between JUI-F and QWP],” he added.
The journalist posing the question was also told that in view of Nato’s withdrawal in 2014, Pukhtun representatives in parliament were imperative. However, those who want to defeat the ANP have managed to do so, added Sartaj
Another journalist, Khaista Rehman, said there were reports of rigging at NA-7 polling stations where the results were announced on time. Aftab Sherpao’s result is still not clear and no official result had been issued till Sunday evening, he added.
Aman Sher, an ANP student leader at Peshawar University maintained Pukhtuns always went one way, whether that meant voting for the MMA in the past or the PTI in the present. Sher drew a sharp distinction between the Pukhtuns and the people of Sindh and Punjab who, according to him, always voted for the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz respectively.
On the other hand, an official in Charsadda’s district office wishing anonymity said despite the ANP claiming it had carried out development projects, few people had benefited in the region as things remained largely the same. The official also mentioned corruption prevented funds from being distributed among the population.
ANP former law minister and PK-18 losing candidate Arshad Abdullah blamed the establishment for the party’s defeat. According to him, the ANP was restricted in its campaign while others were given a free hand.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.
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