In the May 2013 elections, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman decided to contest for a National Assembly seat from Lakki Marwat, Tank and DI Khan. After winning in all three constituencies, Fazl decided to retain the seat he won in his hometown of DI Khan, leaving NA-27 Lakki Marwat vacant.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and JUI-F are the two prominent political forces in the district. The NA-27 constituency has changed hands several times, having been won by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, PML-Q and JUI-F in 2002, 2008 and 2013 respectively.
In 2013, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) burgeoning popularity led to Fazl contesting from three constituencies in order to hedge his chances of redeeming at least one seat. Despite the district leadership’s reservations, Fazl fought from NA-27.
While the JUI-F district leadership began campaigning for Fazl, the JUI-F chief’s political rivals, tribal leaders and wealthy industrialists of the Saifullah family, tried to convince the district to condemn ‘imported candidates’. In the end, however, Fazl succeeded in wiping out those who stood against him. Hamayun Saifullah, who was elected MNA from the Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid, failed to launch any development projects in Sagga Marwat. As a result, residents favoured the maulana over Saifullah.
After the May 2013 elections, delegations of elders along with members of the JUI-F’s Lakki Marwat chapter held several meetings with Fazl to convince him not to give up the NA-27 seat. However, the JUI-F chief chose his hometown constituency and decided to allow his son, Saad Mehmood, to contest for the seat in the by-polls. However, JUI-F leaders convinced Fazl to allow his son to contest in DI Khan instead of his brother, Maulana Attaur Rahman. Consequently, Attaur Rahman is now the JUI-F’s candidate.
The JUI-F’s Lakki Marwat chapter, however, is not satisfied with Fazl’s decision of imposing his brother on them. They went as far as conducting a popularity contest to prove their point. Out of 68 votes in the JUI-F’s Lakki Marwat chapter, only 20 were won by Attaur Rahman. A total of 28 were cast in favour of JUI-F district chief Maulana Amanullah’s son, Maulana Ahraf Ali. Yet despite the latter clearly emerging as the favourite, Fazl rejected the chapter’s pleas to support a local candidate and maintained his decision to allow his brother to contest was final.
Will the PML-N contest?
Meanwhile, after their tremendous failure in the general elections, the Saifullah brothers decided not to contest the by-polls. Social activist and political leader, Akhtar Munir of the PML-N, was encouraged to prepare for the polls and submit his papers as a candidate. Munir contacted the PML-N’s central leadership, and after getting a green signal he submitted his papers.
However, according to some rumours, Fazl convinced PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif not to give party tickets to members in constituencies where JUI-F candidates were contesting the polls in return for voting in the latter’s favour as prime minister. This cannot be confirmed, but it merits mentioning the PML-N’s central leadership has not as yet awarded tickets to members in constituencies where JUI-F candidates will be competing.
On the other hand, PML-N Lakki Marwat Information Secretary Ghulam Haider Khan, while talking to The Express Tribune, said all PML-N activists are supporting Akhtar Munir. “Giving a ticket to Munir would breathe new life into PML-N supporters in the constituency,” he said, adding if Nawaz did indeed award Munir the ticket it would reflect his concern for the ‘far-flung’ district of Lakki Marwat. “However, if Nawaz Sharif has an understanding with Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Munir will contest as an independent candidate and all PML-N supporters will vote in his favour.”
Haider further stated residents of the area should be aware of the fact that Munir is from the district himself, whereas other candidates were from DI Khan and were unlikely to care about Lakki Marwat even if they won the election.
“Moreover, everyone should know the PML-N constitutes the federal government, and a candidate from that party will be able to develop the area by launching development projects,” claimed Haider. “In the end the contest will be between the PML-N and JUI-F in the district, and both parties are struggling to win the seat.”
A cog in the machine
Despite Haider’s comments, a third candidate will contest for the seat as well. The PTI’s Ameerullah Khan contested the NA-27 seat in the general elections but lost to the JUI-F chief. Now, three PTI candidates have submitted applications for a party ticket. With Ameerullah Khan, Bahadur Marwat and Saleem Nawaz all clambering for the ticket, the fragmented approach depicts the internal rifts faced by the party in the area. The PTI’s senior leadership is yet to award the ticket to any of these candidates, however.
Whoever wins the PTI’s ticket, what is clear is that the candidate entering as a third force can have an unexpected effect on the poll results. Although it is clear that the PTI candidate cannot defeat either the JUI-F or the PML-N, he can prove to be lethal to the party the PTI opposes, which in this case is the JUI-F.
The opposition stems from JUI-F chief’s refusal to accept the PTI’s mandate in K-P. If the PTI wants to settle a score with the JUI-F, the party can support the PML-N’s candidate against Maulana Attaur Rahman.
Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader and candidate for NA-27, Dr Abdullah Khan says personal issues should be sidelined for a joint cause. “All political parties should forget the rifts between them and take part in the elections in a way that prioritises the public’s interest. Whoever wins should attempt to develop the area so it no longer remains a backward district.” (Written and translated by Muhammad Irfan)
2002 election results
In the 2002 elections, the NA-27 seat was won by MMA candidate Maulana Amanullah Khan, who belongs to the JUI-F. The runner-up was PML-Q candidate Anwar Saifullah Khan.
Maulana Aman Ullah Khan 65,938 votes
Anwar Saifullah Khan 41,171 votes
In the 2008 elections, the contest was once again between the MMA and PML-Q. However, this time the PML-Q came out on top with the MMA candidate securing second place.
Hamayun Saifullah Khan (PML-Q) 61,303 votes
Dr. Khalid Raza Peer Zakori Sharif (MMA) 52,315 votes
Khan Bahader Marwat (Independent) 5,949 votes
Hamid Ullah Khan (ANP) 1,597 votes
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.