PESHAWAR (APP): Chitral is all set to witness a close election battle on July 25. Political heavyweights of PML-N, PTI, MMA and PPP are contesting against each other on the lone constituency of NA-I Chitral. As many as 11 candidates, including former MNAs Iftikharuddin and Abdul Akbar Chitrali, an ex-provincial minister Saleem Khan and a woman candidate are flexing their muscles in the valley covering 14,850 kilometers area.
The constituency comprises Upper and Lower Chitral where people are facing a number of problems such as poor waste management, unemployment, poverty, loadshedding, inadequate road infrastructure, lack of medical, education and clean drinking water facilities and any candidate with solid programmes for solution of these issues could get an edge over others on July 25.
What is in the ballot box for PML-N?
PML-N ticket holder Shahzada Iftikharudin is being considered one of the powerful candidates for NA-I because of his strong roots and sufficient vote bank of his party in the constituency.
Shahzada Iftikhar had won this seat in 2013 general elections on the ticket of All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) of former President General Pervez Musharraf.
On July 23, 2017, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif while addressing a public rally at the time of inauguration of Lowari Tunnel had introduced Shahzada Iftikharuddin before the crowd that “he is my candidate for 2018 general elections.”
Shahzada Iftikhar would have an advantage of massive development projects completed by his party during last five years in Chitral besides taking credit for completion of 108 megawatt Golen Gol hydropower project and gigantic Lowari tunnel.
In the 2013 general elections, Shahzada Iftikharuddin had clinched victory by securing 29,772 votes against PTI’s Abdul Latif with 24,182 votes and Abdul Akbar Chitral of Jamaat-e-Islami’s 20,520 votes.
What PTI is expecting?
PTI has again fielded Abdul Latif, who had narrowly lost to Iftikharuddin in 2013, and now is expected to give tough time to his political rivals. He would have the advantage of planting millions of trees in Chitral by PTI government under Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project (BTAP) during the last five years in KP besides revamping the health, police, tourism and education system in the district.
What share PPP is looking for?
Former provincial minister, Saleem Khan, who is contesting election on PPP ticket, has also a strong support with deep roots along with sufficient vote bank of his party in the constituency and can upset many.
Saleem Khan would have the advantage of cashing various mega uplifts projects and social welfare schemes including Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) started by former PPP government that had benefited a large number of people in Chitral.
MMA is geared up to rise again
The five religious parties alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has fielded a strong candidate, former MNA Abdul Akbar Khan Chitrali, who is posing serious challenge to his political rivals due to sufficient religious vote bank of JUI-F and JI in the constituency.
In the 2002 elections, the constituency was comfortably won by Abdul Akbar Khan after securing 36,130 votes against runner-up Shahzada Iftikharuddin of PML-Q who bagged 31,120 votes.
Independents also have a keen eye
A female independent candidate, Tadira Ajmal is also trying her luck on NA-I Chitral. The other candidates are Saeedur Rehman (Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party), Shahzada Taimour Khusro (Independent), Eidul Hussain (ANP), Muhammad Amjad (APML), Muhammad Yaya (Independent) and Nisar Dastageer (Independent) who are flexing their muscles for this lone national assembly constituency.