This article was published in daily Dawn before the October 10, 2002, general elections
By Zar Alam Khan
CHITRAL was allocated two seats – PF-89 and PF-90 – after delimitation of constituencies before the 2002 general elections. Earlier, too, there were two seats, but thanks to Gen Zia’s political shenanigans one of the seats was taken away without any plausible reasons.
PF-89 Chitral-I consists of the Chitral subdivision, including tehsils Chitral, Drosh, Ayun and Garamchashma, excluding a number of contiguous villages with the Mastuj tehsil of upper Chitral, which have been merged into PF-90 (Chitral-II), to bring the population of both the constituencies at par.
About 52 per cent of the population lives in Chitral and the rest in the Mastuj subdivision.
PF-90 (Chitral-II) includes all areas of the Mastuj subdivision, including the tehsils of Tor Khow, Mor Khow and Mastuj.
In the 2002 elections, In PF-89, the contestants were: Mirdullah Jan (PPP), Sherin Khan (PML-QA), Fazal Rahim (PML-N), Maulana Abdur Rahim (MMA), Hussain Ahmed (PPP-SB) and Mohammed Ajmal Khan (PPP-S).
In PF-90, Chitral II, also there were six contestants from as many parties: Zahiruddin (PPP-S), Saeed Ahmed Khan (PML-Q), Syed Burhan Shah (PPP-SB), Shahzada Nisar Ahmed Jilani (PPP), Mumtaz Zareen (PML-N) and Maulana Jehangir Khan of the MMA.
A former princely state, Chitral, with a population of about 320,000, is inhabited by numerous clans with their sub-groups.
The district, with an area of about 15,000 square-kilometres, is sparsely populated and none of the clans is concentrated in any particular constituency. Because of this, there has never been a compact clan-based political alliance.
In 1988, eleven candidates were in the field for the then lone seat (PF-71). Mohammed Wali Khan of the PPP won the seat by securing 22,277 votes against Maulana Abdur Rahim of the IJI (12,398 votes). Others were: Saeed Ahmed (9,624 votes), Bakhtiar Ahmed of the ANP (3,520), Zafar Ahmed (2,493), Mohammed Wazir (2,658), and Khurshid Ali of the JUI (F) (2,462).
In 1990, the IJI’s Maulana Ghulam Ahmed returned on the seat with 32,447 votes, while Ghulam Nabi of the PDA secured 21,020 votes. Other contestants were: Amir Khan Jalali (4,701 votes), Mohammed Ajmal Khan of the JUI (F) (2,026) and Mohammed Yousuf (1,333 votes). The turnout was 50.75 per cent, while the number of registered voters was 116,400.
In the 1993 elections, out of the 121,197 registered voters, the turnout decreased by almost 5 per cent with 45.66 per cent using their right of franchise. The seat went to the PPP’s Zainul Abeddin, who got 26,229 votes against Maulana Ghulam Mohammed of the PIF (14,346 votes). Afzal Ali of the PML (N) got 8,958 votes, while 982 votes went to an independent candidate, Ghulam Nabi.
In 1997, the PML (N)’s Saeed Ahmed won the seat with 20,664 votes. His close rival Sardar Hussain of the PPP got 12,641 votes followed by Independent candidate Fardad Ali Shah (6,069 votes), Najmur Rehman of the JUI (F) (4,470), the PPP (SB)’s Begum Sulaiman (3,719), Ghulam Hazrat (1,026), Inayatullah Asir (974) and Sharif Hussain (414 votes). The turnout again dropped by about 5 per cent to 41.10 out of 124,469 registered voters.