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Thursday, February 14, 2008

PPP, ANP dominate election scene in Frontier

Awami National Party women at a luncheon arranged for the journalists at a local hotel in Peshawar on Wednesday.
(Thanx to zahid of for Picture and News)

PPP, ANP dominate election scene in Frontier
Thursday, February 14, 2008
By Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: With just four days left in the February 18 general elections, the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) seem to dominate the election scene in the provincial metropolis.

Though all the political parties have fielded their candidates, a tough contest is expected between the PPP and the ANP, with a slight edge to the latter, on the four National Assembly and 11 provincial assembly seats from Peshawar.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which had swept the last general elections by winning all the four National Assembly and seven provincial assembly seats, seems far behind the ANP and PPP this time. Hardly a few aspirants fielded by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), which is using the name of MMA, may enter the assemblies from the district in the coming polls.

The ANP's central senior vice president and former federal minister, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, will face PPP provincial secretary information, Ayub Shah, and the JUI-F NWFP spokesperson, Abdul Jalil Jan, on NA-1, Peshawar 1, comprising urban Peshawar. A total of eleven candidates are contesting from the area.

A number of independent aspirants and candidates of different political parties are also in the run for NA-1, but the real competition seems to be between the ANP and the PPP, with an edge to the nationalists. The NA-2 Peshawar, the permanent seat of former chief minister Arbab Jehangir Khalil, is the constituency where millions have been spent on advertising hoardings alone. It seems like a 'modeling contest' between candidates of political parties, who can be seen in different poses on huge billboards to attract voters.

The nationalists have fielded wealthy Arbab Najeebullah against PPP's Arbab Alamgir Khalil. Alamgir is the eldest son of Arbab Jehangir, who while contesting from the constituency never lost a general election throughout his life. Arbab Najeeb seems to be a real challenge to the budding politician, Alamgir, who lost the previous elections to MMA candidate, Maulana Rahmatullah.

Political pundits believe the NA-2 is the only constituency where PPP has an edge over ANP and the factor is the family of Arbab Jehangir, which had made tremendous efforts for the development of the area since its first entry into the assembly in the 70s. The MMA's candidate and six others fielded by different parties are far behind Alamgir and Najeeb.

Apart from Hashim Baber of ANP and Noor Alam Khan of PPP, the secretary general of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, is among the eight candidates flexing muscles for NA-3, Peshawar-III. This is probably the only constituency where the PML-N is flying high. The party factor, however, may prove a real hurdle for popular Jhagra to become an MNA.

PML-Q led by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is very much in the run for the backward NA-4 where the party has fielded its provincial chief and former federal minister Amir Muqam against Arbab Zahir of ANP, Azam Afridi of PPP and Barrister Maulana Nisar of JUI-F. Four other candidates are also in the run from the constituency. The well-educated Maulana does not seem to have impressed a large number of voters.

MMA leader Sabir Hussain Awan was elected MNA from the ANP dominated NA-4 in the previous elections. This time Sabir Hussain is not in the run but ANP, which is otherwise ahead in the race, is facing a serious threat in shape of Amir Muqam.
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