ATTOCK - The 2018 general elections will witness a tough contest between PTI’s Maj Tahir Sadiq and PML-N candidate Sheikh Aftab Ahmed in NA-55, Attock. As many as eight candidates are in the race for NA-55 of Attock. Prominent among them are former district Nazim Major Tahir Sadiq and former federal minister for parliamentary affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad.

The NA-55 constituency consists of tehsil Attock, Hazro and Hassanabdal where there are 571,804 registered voters.

The other six candidates are Zulfiqar Hayat Khan of PPP, Asif Iqbal of Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, Taimoor Aslam of PTI-Nazriati, Hafiz Saeed Ahmad of MMA, Muhammad Hafeez Ullah Jan of Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan and Malik Mir Afzal of Pakistan Human Rights Party.

Maj (r) Tahir Sadiq, who joined PTI last year was previously associated with PM-Q and remained Attock district nazim twice during Pervez Musharaf’s regime, seems to be a strong candidate from the constituency. He is considered to have contacts at the grassroots level, having strong teams at union council level. He also claims to have carried out a lot of development work and provided jobs to the youth in education, police and other departments. He is also accessible to everyone anytime.

Maj (r) Tahir Sadiq told this scribe that he travelled hundreds of miles daily to have close contacts with his people. Apparently, his position seems to be strong in this constituency.

On the other hand, Sheikh Aftab Ahmad who is in good books of Sharif brothers also did a lot of development work in this locality. He claims that he provided gas facility to all the villages of tehsils Attock and Hazro, established an agriculture university in the district, started master-level classes in Government Boys College, Attock, and recruited thousands of teachers purely on merit, which was a record.

Although both the leaders have contributed to the constituency’s development, they will have to work hard to garner the support of the voters to clinch the seat.

Malik Amin Aslam, a local PTI leader, withdrew his nomination papers in favour of Maj Tahir Sadiq. He was so close to Imran Khan that he tasked him to look after one billion-tree project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Khan acknowledged his services at every forum, but did not give him ticket for NA-55. Since the PTI chief considered Major Tahir Sadiq a strong candidate and electable, he pacified Aslam by saying that he would be elevated to the ministry of environment after coming to power.

Malik Aslam had filed his nomination papers for NA-55, so his supporters forced him to contest as an independent candidate after PTI denied him ticket despite his 10 years of association with the party. But Aslam withdrew his nomination papers and told his supporters that he could not betray his party leadership. He, however, told journalists that he would not take part in the election campaign of Major Tahir Sadiq. After the withdrawal of papers by Aslam, the position of Major Tahir has become stronger.

Sheikh Aftab, who has been in power for the last 10 years, has thousands of supporters and is running his election campaign with high hopes. However, some of his party office-bearers at the tehsil level have joined other parties or are supporting other candidates. This factor has certainly created problems for the former federal minister. Talking to The Nation, Sheikh Aftab said he believes in the performance that will help him win the polls.