CHITRAL, April 22: Though the disqualification of Pervez Musharraf has not gone well with the people of Chitral, it seems unlikely that his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) will get considerable sympathy votes for the one national and two provincial assembly seats.
On the other hand, candidates of other parties, especially JI and PTI, have not come out of the shock of Musharraf’s decision to contest election from Chitral even though the former president has been disqualified and arrested keeping him out of the political scene.
Till April 16 when a tribunal rejected the acceptance of Musharraf’s papers in Peshawar, all the other candidates were double-minded about their campaigns, thinking that in the presence of Musharraf they would get strong drubbing. But soon after his disqualification, they succumbed to public displeasure over challenging Musharraf’s candidature in the tribunal by candidates including Maulana Abdul Akbar and Abdul Lateef.
The APML candidates are also in trouble. People of Chitral voted Shahzada Mohiuddin and Ghulam Mohammad of the PML-Q in 2008 mainly for Musharraf’s mega projects like the Lowari tunnel, Mastuj bridge and Shandur road. Now Shahzada Mohiuddin’s two sons Iftikharuddina and Pervez Khalid and Ghulam Mohammad cannot repeat cashing in on Musharraf’s services popularity among the voters.
This is one of the reasons Shahzada Mohiuddin is set to try his usual trick of manipulations by making and breaking deals with small parties and personalities. Sources say he has decided to persuade the JUI-F candidate to withdraw from the NA race in return for support in the provincial assembly seat of PK-89. Shahzada Mohiuddin is said to have offered to withdraw his son Pervez Khalid from PK-89 in support of the JUI-F. The JUI-F has solid vote bank in Chitral and in case of any understanding with the APML, both the parties can make their position stronger.
On the other hand, despite claiming that his chances of winning the NA seat had jumped to 90 per cent after Musharraf’s exit, Maulana Abdul Akbar will still face trouble. This is not 2002 when all the religious parties were united under the platform of the MMA. The failure of the JUI-F and his Jamaat-e-Islami to forge a consensus and enter into an alliance has divided the religious parties’ votes in Chitral. However, in a new development many people in upper Chitral, who have been traditional voters of Shahzada Mohiuddin and others, are said to have soft corner for Maulana Chitrali. People say that he may get a considerable number of votes in the area this time.